FARGO – Taylor Schatz has “Rocky Horror” fans shivering with anticipation.
To prepare for his role as the sweet transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Schatz wasted no time getting into heels. The first night of rehearsal, he slipped on a pair and snapped a photo of his fuzzy legs propped up on a desk.
“Day 1 with heels at rehearsal,” he wrote on Facebook. “I managed to slip these babies on with minimal troubles. Note to self: When wearing heels into the men’s restroom, you get triple-takes, and people do the awkward ‘try not to look, but still find a way to look’ look. This was fun. I think I shall do this again.”
He’s done it again at every rehearsal since.
That first “heel diary” post got over 100 “likes,” so he kept doing it, sharing a leg photo every night of rehearsal. The posts not only show off the 28-year-old Fargo man’s muscular gams, they offer a peek at how a show like “Rocky Horror” comes together.
Behind Schatz’s pointed toes, Music Theatre Fargo-Moorhead cast members are seen reading sheet music, working on their vocals, practicing choreography and blocking scenes.
“It’s so beautiful to watch them blossom,” director Christopher Damlo says.
For “Rocky Horror” virgins: The campy cult classic follows the newly engaged Brad (Billy Schnase) and Janet (Solveig Swanson) as they get caught in a storm and end up at the home of the mad transvestite scientist
Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who, shall we say, encourages sexual exploration.
“It’s not about homosexuality. It’s not about heterosexuality. It’s just about sexuality,” Schatz says.
“As adult as the show is, it’s a very ‘adult’ interpretation as well,” he adds.
So leave the kids at home.
Damlo is also amping up the rock-’n-roll elements for MTFM’s version.
“Basically, it’s going to be a really loud, hoot-and-holler rock-’n’-roll floor show,” he says.
Adding to the excitement over the production is the 40th anniversary of the release of the 1975 movie starring Tim Curry, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Schatz and Damlo say it’s the show’s kitsch, sexy-silliness, music and audience participation (kits will be provided) that’s kept it a favorite after all these years. It allows audience members to be “inappropriate” when it’s considered appropriate.
“I think it’s a liberating show because it allows you to be anyone you want to be without feeling self-conscious or ashamed,” Damlo says. “It’s about exploring who you are and becoming comfortable with it.”
Although Schatz has been teasing Facebook with his leg shots, you won’t see much more of him until “The Rocky Horror Show” opens on Thursday night. The cast and crew are keeping his final look under wraps until then.
“Instead of trying to make him look like Tim Curry, we’re working with what he has to offer,” Damlo says, though he and costume designer Chris Lewis are sticking with the iconic corset-and-hotpants combo.
Schatz, who’s transformed his body with fat loss and muscle gain over the past few years, thought he might be cast as Rocky, Frank-N-Furter’s hunky creation, but he didn’t expect to be cast as the creator himself.
“I had this moment afterward where I was like, ‘I just said yes to playing Frank-N-Furter on stage,’ “ he says. “It means wearing a corset, fishnets and high heels. I was like, ‘Game on, let’s do it.’ “
With a sexually forward show like “Rocky Horror,” there is no room for shyness, which, he says, is freeing.
Shortly after making his heel debut, Schatz made his legs more touch-a, touch-a touch-able by shaving, a routine he’s kept up every two to three days in the lead-up to the show.
Getting used to his bare-minimum look helped him get into character quickly. The heels change how he walks, moves and dances.
“It’s really going from the ground up. In a way, it starts with the heels,” he says.
Hot patootie, bless his soul.
IF YOU GO WHAT: Music Theatre Fargo-Moorhead’s production of “The Rocky Horror Show”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and Oct. 30 through Nov. 1; midnight performances on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1
where: The Stage at Island Park, 333 4th St. S., Fargo
INFO: Tickets cost $15 for students, $20 for seniors and $25 for adults and are available at www.musictheatrefm.com or by calling (701) 235-6778. Audience props will be provided. For mature audiences only.