For the past year I have been working with the delicious and delectable Hot & Flustered crew. Initially I wondered how I would fit in being different to the cast (picture more than twice most of the casts age, and twice the size) and I am sure my insecurities showed. Not only have I enjoyed my brief and small roles in any production, I also enjoy the feeling of a second family. That’s what they are, my second (diverse) family.
Check out their face book page to keep up to date with their up and coming shows by clicking HERE.
I decided to interview two of the show’s producers – one who is leaving in the short term (to live overseas) and one who is taking over this baton. Between them, Matt Owens (MO) and Juliette Tubby (JT) are a dream team.
BS: So how long has Hot & Flustered been in existence?
MO: We’re coming into our third year at the moment. So it started 2013 or 2014. We were a rebirth of the concept. Where it was initially started in 2012 and continued into 2013 with Evil Deeds. And then they had their ending, which allowed Hot & Flustered to be created a year after that: members of the cast wanted it to keep going..
BS: And did many members of the cast follow through into Hot & Flustered?
MO: We had a few. I believe there were about– there were a good handful from the Evil Deeds cast. But then a lot of them were people who joined the cast through hearing about it through other people. Or I think we even had some Facebook events sort of pop up about it.
BS: How did Hot & Flustered sort of materialize out of Evil Deeds
MO: Well, it was one of the members that really enjoyed– that was Kaelen, who liked the idea of shadow cast and what it was, and what it meant to her. So she enlisted a couple other members from the other cast to restart it up again, and they just sort of made things happen. And they found Shannon, who’s had done shadow casting in Germany before. Shannon was one of the founders and runners of evil deeds. He was also brought in as a director once we restarted. They just found other people who can do more things. Then there’s Tash who had backstage theater experience, meant the cast could become something again.
Photo Credit: Photos by Allysa
BS: The current members now, how many are there – I know – well I’m pretty damn sure – you’ve got a backlog of people that want to join.
MO: The group is about 30-people strong. The amount of people who are in each shows is about maybe 15-16, and the amount of people who are involved in the extra stuff that we do is closer to 10. It sort of varies on what we’re doing, and what sort of production as to how we are limited and how easy it is to find the people to get involved, which is quite good with our current cast. We can’t allow for a large amount of people to be involved, or to be able to have such a scaled-back operation. It is just a matter of needing the committed people who continue to do this every time, and those people that will do things. Yeah. If it’s always a corporate thing at any establishment I guess, there will always be a committed group making sure that everything is moving forward. So this event’s the same as that as well. And of course we are a voluntary group.
BS: And that’s always been voluntary?
MO: Yes. I believe when we started, they put in an audition process which made it which is how it grew; an audition process which made it…..– and then they got an acting coach to run the auditions, and we just didn’t feel that that was the way that it should be, and it should be a bit more free form, a bit more–
MO–Organic, yeah. And so if you feel you wanted to do something in the cast, you can do it. You just have to make sure that it’s not going to tumble over anything that anyone else is doing.
BS: So how did you become involved in it, were you been part of Evil Deeds?
MO: No, I wasn’t in Evil Deeds, and I came to watch Hot & Flustered in the first show because I was friends with Wesley who was in Evil Deeds and was part of the core cast. And for the first show, though, he was Rocky, and for the second show they decided that they’d up the ante a bit more and try to find someone blond, buffed, and tanned.
JT: I wasn’t part of Evil Deeds, but joined Hot & Flustered in January 2016. I became involved with Hot & Flustered through Matt, we have been friends for a few years and I went and watched his Halloween show in 2014 and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to join but couldn’t due to circumstances at the time and then the opportunity came last year and I haven’t looked back!
BS: And of course, you’re dark-haired. I’m not going to say anything else further [laughter].
MO: Naturally, the skinny, white brunette guy who’s just a big bigger than Wesley [laughter]. It was sort of just the next best thing. From there, I just sort of made my way into the cast. I was given the opportunity that there was to do — anything that I could have done to make the cast better, I put my name down for. Which is how I got into doing the cast’s posters, making a lot of the props, helping sew some of the costumes. And then as people’s lives moved on, they roll in and out of the cast. Which is perfectly fine. We always welcome them back, but as people roll out someone has to take the lead. It just sort of got to the point where I kept on putting my hand up, and then I was suddenly running the cast. Through like three people, in turn, leaving. And so I sort of stumbled my way into it, not really knowing what I was getting myself into. And now I’m really happy with what this cast is becoming and what’s sort of developing from it.
Photo Credit; Photo’s by Allysa
BS: So your involvement with the cast is the three years? Or just slightly shy of the three years?
MO: Slightly shy. Up until this year, I’d only missed one show. But this year, as I’m making my exit from the cast and handing it over to Juliette, to hopefully run this cast, as well as maybe make it even better to keep going forward. I had my two-show break while I was traveling and I think– effectively wanting to try and create the same scenario overseas because it’s just such incredible fun.
JT: Just hit my first year anniversary with Hot & Flustered
BS: And is it true that Hot & Flustered is New Zealand’s only shadow cast? I hear that there is one further south.
MO: It’s currently New Zealand’s only shadow cast. We are now New Zealand’s premier shadow cast.
MO: Again, we’re not the first because Evil Deeds came before us. But then, yeah, coming up next year, I believe, is a shadow cast group based in Tauranga that are going to be holding that shows. And they’re a more mature aged group, I believe– because we’re a relatively young cast than average. And I believe their cast is mostly middle-age people who grew up with the Rocky fandom and worked alongside it. And so it’s going to be interesting to see how the two different casts–
BS: Yeah, work together.
MO: Yeah, and how we could both go in very different ways.
Photo Credit: Photos by Allysa
BS: I was going to say after, I’d love to see how they do the Eddie segment.
MO: Yeah. And so it’ll be interesting to see sort of– because we’re focusing on other movies as well now. But we started just with Rocky and at the start of this year we launched into Grease. It will be interesting to see because their base is from Cabaret; will they go a newbie route or stick to the Cabaret side, or if they continue with…
BS: They may even take it from the New Rocky movie rather than the original?
MO: Indeed, yeah.
BS: Yeah. So the characters that you play– I think you’ve played just about every character in Rocky apart from Magenta?
MO: I’ve never played Magenta. Through rehearsals, I’ve done every character when people don’t show up and we need a fill in, and that’s usually me because I eventually get to know the whole movie. But I’ve actually not played that many characters between–
JT: I’ve only ever played Brad, Janet and Dr. Frank-N-Furter. I came to play play Brad as the cast was slightly smaller than it was now and they needed a female Brad for the Gender bend show and then it all took off from there.
MO: Well, when I started, I was primarily Rocky, and so there was– every year I’d just be Rocky and director, which worked out quite well because Rocky’s scenes might be a minimum and just sort of be thing so you can at the same time direct without getting in the way of your own performance, but.
BS: And so was Rocky your favorite character and why?
MO: I think he’s a true character to play because he’s not a character that you can play him very simply, and just be very straightforward, and just a blank face, stand in one place. You’ve just been born so you can get away with that. And you don’t have to learn all actions properly because you can just bluff your way through it. But then at the same time he’s quite interesting for being made and he’s a few hours old, but he’s just….And he’s actually got half a brain because he kind of– he’s got to run and he’s got to do basic stuff.Yeah, and so you can read into the character and think, “How stupid can I be?’ And so I make the most of that by running into the audience and interacting the most. And the only characters that can have that freedom is Frank and Rocky. In fact, they’ve just got– they’re the freeform ones where the others are quite rigid. So with my part, yeah, I like to explore myself. I like to sort of get involved. But in my other characters that I’ve played, I’ve done Rocky a couple of times which is fun because it’s just sort of a one-off. And then I got to do the floor show double casting of the characters which allowed us to have more people involved with physical roles. And then the only other character I’ve played has been Columbia, in our gender-bend show will now return where I first met you.
BS: Oh right. So what’s your favorite number to perform then? Matt, You mentioned the floor shows. Is that your favorite number or is there another number?
MO: The floor show is fun because– they’ve all got their parts that’s fun. The floor show is fun because it’s the end of the movie and you’ve seen the whole character transformation. You’re all wearing your sort of matching uniform and you’re all doing your line dance, which there hasn’t been a uniformed dance like this that’s been so choreographed, and at the same time, ’80s dance. Because it’s the very rock and roll sort of style. You’re throwing Columbia around. You’re just having fun with it. But I reckon this coming year, I’m hoping to get a chance at playing Brad because I feel, I myself, am quite a Brad character. Yeah. And so for me to play that would be really fun, and I really like the idea of being with Janet yeah, because Janet have been at someone else’s wedding and you proposing to your wife, to your girlfriend. And the first thing you think to do is to go see your teacher. And I think that’s great, amazing. And it’s just a lot of running around. You’re not really dancing it off. You’re not really even singing it. It’s just sort of talking through music and running around the stage. So I think that’s going to be fun to do.
JT: Even though I have never done it, I really enjoy the Time Warp. It is fun as it is a song everyone in the audience know regardless of if they’ve seen Rocky Horror before. Its always a great feeling to watch the audience jump up and join in with us.
BS: Juliette, what or who is your favorite character in Rocky Horror?
JT: I quite like Riff Raff as a character. He’s my favorite because he is cheeky and quite fun. He uses his intimidation and creepiness to scare Brad and Janet even more so than they already are just to keep himself entertained.
BS: How would you describe the current cast now?
MO: A crazy, dysfunctional family. I feel that it goes through cycles of people. There’s always a different base group. And just you think when it’s starting to settle there’ll be another group of people that come through and the whole situation changes again.
BS: Yeah, the dynamics change.
MO: Yeah, the dynamics do change, but I think the bottom line is that when we’re all together it’s just fun and we can all pull whatever person on that needs to be put on – it’s our show and we allow ourselves to just have fun with it.
JT: As cliché as it sounds, the cast is like a family.
BS: So what events are in the pipeline, then? I know that you’ve done Grease, I know that you’ve done Rocky Horror.
MO: We did Grease at the start of last year and–
BS: At the start of 2016?
MO: Yep, 2016. And it was amazing. We didn’t quite think it would be as– we knew that it would be fun. We knew that it would be a laugh. I only knew that it would be quite a success. I didn’t realize it’d be that much success that we had people asking us and we’ve still got people asking us when are we doing it again? Which is why we’ve just announced that we’re going to do it again coming up in March. We’ve got the Waiheke Artworks Theatre asking for us to do some rocky shows there, so I’m going to try and get Grease to happen over there as well as the Pump house which double use of old costumes and props that we already have now. So we’ve got, at the start of 2017, it’s going to be a busy one for. May or may not have to do with the fact that I’m leaving in April, and there’s a lot that I want to do. A lot of people have the time over the holidays so it’s a good time to do what we can. And so if we do what we’re doing– we’ve got, I think, three different shows of Rocky at three different places throughout February, and then March we’ve got Grease coming back. And we’ve been asked to do Little Shop of Horrors for the Pump house on the 1st of April, which will be– it’s going to be completely a final undertaking. It’ll be–
BS: It’s going to be quite an energetic stage show, that one.
MO: I don’t think anything can be more energetic than Grease, but I’ve got a lot planned for the final scene of Little Shop, where the rest of it, I feel, will be– it’ll be a lovely show until the end where I think the stage is going to explode. It’ll be great.
BS: Yeah. So it’s going to be messy.
MO: Yeah. That’s one word for it.
BS: Yay. For us to clean up [laughter].
MO: Well, luckily, we’re the ones who clean up after ourselves, so it’s all right.
BS: So much mess! So with the Rocky Horror—Have you always used the Vic in Devonport as the base?
Photo Credit: Photo’s by Allysa
MO: The Vic is our base. And I quite appreciate the fact that we’ve– back when we first came out, The Vic was one of the first places that had the midnight screenings. And a lot of my family, friends have told me about when they were younger and they would go see [inaudible] Rocky every Friday night which is why we like to keep the whole Friday night for Rocky. It’s not the most convenient for a lot of our cast which we’ve discussed and we’ve thought about. But we like the consistency and we like the idea that it’s got the history there. Where for the rest of our [plays?] we do put them to a Saturday so we can have the whole day to rehearse. We’ve got a bit more comfort there. I think The Vic is just– The Vic’s a great base. And ideally, we like to spread ourselves through working and show that we’re open to new things and whatnot. Plus–
BS: Committed to the fans.
MO: Committed to the fans, yeah. And if we’re doing a show out west is easier for everyone.
BS: The Hollywood in Avondale would be brilliant, Purely selfish reasons [laughter].
MO: And, we can do it, but we like our loyalty to the Vic. They treat us well. It’s a brilliant little theatre. It works well for us. It’s cute, and just the setting’s nice.
BS: Yeah. And it works, and everybody knows where it is. So if anybody knows that there’s a Rocky Horror bit coming up, they know that generally, aside from the last two or three shows, that they can walk up and get tickets.
MO: Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s the thing. The only thing is capacity, but maybe that means that we should do them more often or that–
BS: It’s a fine line really.
MO: Yeah. There’s sort of like, if we do it more often, then there’s oversaturation
BS; So with your pre-show entertainment, I know that you have of involvement with the Hootchy Kootchy girls and that. How did that pre-show entertainment come about? Because I know in the movie they had Trixie, who was the usherette.
MO: Well, initially, our shows were just the movie. And we’d have Trixie singing Science Fiction Double Feature. Which was always just some sort of dance, some sort of stripping. Just some sort of entrance to what the show was. Whether it was occasionally Mel giving lap dances to like the members of the audience. Or, I believe, we had a couple of our other girls doing variations of taking off each other’s clothes to reveal themselves. So it was always just something a little bit fun. But then it came on to– then we enlisted Miss Cherry Lashes, who is a good friend of ours, to do an actual burlesque dance for our Trixie. And then through that, we were coming up to the 40th anniversary of the movie in October back in 20(??) and we wanted to make it something else worth an evening as opposed to just being a movie that you go to and you enjoy. And then, we tried to enlist a band to play in the foyer before the movie started, which I believe that ended up falling through, but we put on [toppers?] in the lounge next door. Which is a beautiful lounge undergoing renovations which will be really cool for us because it means we get to do more things there. So we tried to make it a whole event that went from 6:30pm until our show finishing at 11:30pm or something, and so, we had a full range of– we enlisted Miss. Cherry Lashes. Hootchy Kootchy girls to be part of our preshow entertainment. We had about five girls that night, I mean, all performing different numbers. We got a magician on the stage doing a 15-minute act or something, and it just sort of developed into something that we figured that we could, obviously, saturate down and make into a preshow. To make all of our shows an event without being too costly or anything.
MO: And to get these amateur girls another chance to perform because women aren’t amateur at anything. Just to get a chance to be on stage is an amazing thing for us. It sort of works in the same way where we get to occasionally get on to the Hootchy Kootchy stage and advertise ourselves. I’ll come to shows and show off what we do. Also, enlist some of their audience to come along, and then they come up to us out of our free show and we get a couple of their girls to come on stage. And now, it’s sort of become a full-time thing whether is Cherry Lashes or Harleen Quinzill that does our preshow for us, where they do a full routine for science fiction about the future, where it really makes it something special as opposed to just a movie or just a movie with us there, which is special enough.
BS: Like you said, it makes it more of an event.
BS: It’s already an event but it makes it more of a stand-out event.
MO: Yeah. I think that’s quite important to just give the opportunity for more people to do more things that they love.
MO; Which is what we’re all about.
BS: Okay, I’ve got a random question for you both
MO: Okay, go on.
BS: This one’s really random, if you were a crayon in a crayon box, what colour would you like to be and why?
MO: Blood orange.
MO: It’s bold. Once you get it on the paper it can’t come off, and it’ll shine through on any color paper.
JT: I would be the color red as it is vibrant.
BS: Okay. All right. Last one. If you walk out of here today, after this interview, and you win $10 million, what would you do?
MO: Oh, yes. Pay off my debts. Travel.
BS: The world’s your oyster really when you have money, isn’t it?
MO: Probably, buy a property here and there. Buy art. I need to buy a theatre, actually. That is a genuine goal of mine, to buy a theatre. Buy a space that can be utilized in different ways, live in it, but then travel. Make the most of just exploring the world and having fun. That’s what life’s about, though, isn’t it?
JT: I would donate a sum to those less fortunate and some to science to further their studies.