When Nick Sugar swaggers onto the stage of the Avenue Theater as Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show on Friday, July 1, you can count on a raucous good time. "We're putting the sex, drugs and rock and roll back into the show," Sugar says, "putting everything out there. The space seats 96 people. We are in their face. People are going to be part of the show. They're not going to be able to escape it."
Rocky Horror comes to the Avenue through a fortuitous combination of events. It was originally staged at the Pinnacle Dinner Theatre in Littleton, which, with its white tablecloths and suburban audiences, was not an ideal venue for this '70s rock shocker. "People don't want to eat dinner and look at my ass," observes Sugar. "Our audience base is where the show is now -- the middle of Denver."
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Bob Wells, the Avenue's original founder, regained control of the space in May, determined to attract new viewers and keep the place hopping. Then he received a call from Pinnacle's David Pritchard. Rocky Horror was not attracting viewers at Pinnacle and Pritchard, with astonishing generosity, offered Wells the entire production: props, costumes and whatever he could use.
Sugar took over as director. He retained most of the original cast members (a few had other commitments), brought in musical director Donna Debreceni, adjusted the action to the far smaller space and created new choreography.
The Rocky Horror Show
11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, July 1- August 6, Avenue Theater, 417 East 17th Avenue, $18, 303-321-5925, www.avenuetheater.com
Like the production and the Avenue, Sugar himself is in transition. Having left his position as artistic director for Theatre Group early this year, he's being courted by a couple of local investors, and he's excited about the possibilities at the Avenue. But he's also feeling the pull of New York City, where he once worked as an actor and where he still has contacts. "I'm really open right now," he says. "I'm on an adventure."
So grab your rice, newspapers, toast and toilet paper, hit the Avenue and let Sugar know you want him to stay here.