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Get in touch with your 'inner Frank' at Rocky Horror

October 02, 2017

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Charlie Bowen will once again put on his fish net stockings and corset to bring the iconic role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter to life in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show Live” – a role he’s played since 2010. It’s a role he has relished because it brings out his “inner Frank.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” he says, laughing. “Frank is way over the top. To get to do that on stage is a lot of fun. I have to take it to a degree that I’m never allowed in public. I feel like I have a little Frank in me. I feel like a lot of people have an inner Frank.”

But not everyone gets to let that inner Frank out. This show, Bowen says, is his one opportunity to do so.

For those unfamiliar, Rocky Horror is a cult classic, a comedy musical movie that is a perfect send-up of the horror B-movies of the 1970s. In the movie, based on the 1973 stage production, sweethearts Brad and Janet are stuck with a flat tire during a storm. They find their way to the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite scientist. The couple is soon swept into the crazy world of Frank and his guests, a wild group of people at the mansion for the annual Transylvanian convention. The night is a raucous romp that includes dancing and singing, a murder and a chase scene or two.

The 1975 movie was initially panned, but soon became a hit after it became a regular midnight feature at the Waverly Theater in New York City. Audience members began dressing like the characters and talking back to the screen. As the movie showings spread to other cities, shadow casts began to emerge, with actors lip-syncing the characters’ lines. By the end of 1979, there were twice-weekly showings at more than 230 theaters.

These days, the film has a large international following, and has become the longest-running theatrical release in film history.

Bowen first saw Rocky Horror in 2009, when he attended the Statesboro show to see his wife, Megan perform as a Transylvanian.

“I got into this because of my wife. But I love the show also. Seeing her in it, that was my first time seeing Rocky Horror live. It’s a totally different experience, and I was like, this is really cool. I told her, if you’re gonna be in this next year, I’m gonna be in it, too,” he said.

The next year, he auditioned himself, and won the role of Rocky. The following year, he was cast as Frank, and he’s played the lead role ever since. Megan has also continued to be in the show, and is playing the role of Magenta this year, in addition to directing the production. The couple has discussed making this their last year in the cast.

“Every year I say this is gonna be my last year. The past couple of years, I’ve been like, this is gonna be my last year,” he said.

But three actors who had been portraying major roles – Brad, Janet and Columbia – were to be recast this year. Bowen didn’t feel he could step down from the role just yet.

“My wife talked me into one more year. Casting three really big roles and a new Frank would just be too much,” he said.

But even with that thought freshly uttered, Bowen waffles.

“Who knows? Next year I might be in it again,” he said. He’s hopeful that the new cast will be return, and that will ultimately free up the role of Frank for someone new. The idea of a return cast is important to this production, he said.

“We only have a week of rehearsals. That’s not a lot of time,” he said. “It’s really just a couple of hours each day that week. You really have to know the show to make it really good.”

Bowen, who is a Georgia Southern University alumnus, says he enjoys being in the production for many reasons.

“It keeps me in the college community. Most of our cast is college students. It gives me a chance to be around the younger crowd, and be a part of this very welcoming community,” he said.

He also enjoys knowing that the show is important for the community.

“It’s important that we have this show. We are in South Georgia. This community is very conservative. It is a religious community. So this is kind of the one night that the people who aren’t conservative get to be around likeminded people. And feel safe in the community and feel welcomed and feel part of that community,” he said.

Bowen has also developed some great friendships as a result of his involvement in the show.

“I’ve met a lot of people through the show that have become friends of mine, and not just in the cast, but audience members. There are people that come every single year,” he said, smiling.

Bowen says he is aware that the role of Frank is an iconic one for Tim Curry, who played the part in the film. When asked what he brings to the role, Bowen smiles.

“Nobody could be better than Tim Curry,” he said. “Every year I watch the movie over and over again. I still watch the movie probably 50 times leading up to the show. I try to do Tim Curry’s character justice. And there are a lot of sections in the movie where I try to do things exactly like Tim did it; the same mannerisms, the same facial expressions, the same body movements. But then, I try to add my own flair in there, here and there.”

If Bowen could play another character, he said he’d be interested in playing Brad, which would be the complete opposite of Frank.

“I’ve thought about what it would be like to play the more meek character. Of course, Brad has a big arc. I thought that would be a lot of fun. I’ve said that I’m getting too old to be one of the main characters,” he said, laughing.

He’s also interested in playing the criminologist, like Tim Curry did in the recent remake for television.

Bowen and his wife have been married for eight years. The couple has a son, Jack Danger, who is 6.  Bowen also has a son from a previous marriage, Xander, who is 17.

“Outside of Rocky Horror, I’m a pretty traditional dad,” he said, laughing. “Xander is thinking of going out for the baseball team at Statesboro High, so I’ve been tossing baseballs with him in the back yard. And Jack is into Pokémon. That’s something that we do together. I’m really a homebody.”

Charlie and Megan are into swing dancing, having taught classes and traveled to perform. Bowen is also a police officer, and works for his alma mater as a training officer.

And yes – he’s pulled over someone for speeding who recognized him as Frank.

The Bowens have poured much into the show, including their own money. The Averitt Center for the Arts provides the space at the Emma Kelly Theater, in addition to a small budget, which is used for the prop bags.

“When you have to make 700-plus bags, it adds up really quickly,” he said. “So we try to use most of the money the Averitt gives us on that and props.”

They’ve done some fundraising as well, and that money goes to help pay for costuming, although many of the cast members provide their own costumes.

Bowen is quick to point out that the show wouldn’t happen without his wife.

“She’s been the driving force behind it,” he said, adding that they have no plans to stop the show, even if he and Megan operate more behind the scenes.

“We work as a team to make sure it happens. It’s very important to us that it keeps going. That the LGBTQ community and the not-conservative part of the community have an event to go to where they can be around likeminded people and feel safe, feel welcome and have fun.”

Bowen says they have worked each year to make sure the show is always morphing into something better.

“Our goal is to always put on a show that’s better than last year,” he said. “We have some new things for this year’s show that we think are really gonna bring some laughs and will be something new for the audience to see.”

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show Live” will be performed at the Emma Kelly Theater on Oct. 26 and 27. The doors open at 7 p.m., and the pre-show starts at 8. The show is for mature audiences; no one under the age of 18 will be allowed in without an adult. Tickets are $15. Call (912) 212-2787 or go online at to purchase.


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