by Lenise Willis

It’s a time to experiment, they say. Become someone new. Step outside of your box. No one knows who you were. Many people “find themselves” in college; Nick Relos, 18, just happened to find himself wearing three inch heels.

“I’ve been wearing them around the dorm room,” Relos said about training for his new role in Open Space Cafe Theatre’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show. “People have been giving me a lot of weird looks.”

The show depicts a young, lost, engaged couple that seeks shelter after getting a flat tire in a storm. Instead of a telephone, they find the castle of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a mad transvestite who’s brought his creature, Rocky, to life. What ensues is a hilarious, musical parody of B-rated horror films from the 1930s to 19 70s.

Performing as Dr. Frank N. Furter, a sinister, controlling and downright eccentric drag queen, Relos has found himself wearing quite the uncomfortable variety, including three-inch heels, dancer’s shorts and a corset.

“They’re definitely uncomfortable,” he said. “I got blisters on my toes”¦now I understand what women have to go through.”

Besides adjusting to his new style, Relos, who grew up in OSCT’s Rising Star Teen Theatre, has had to channel every shred of confidence he can muster. After all, it takes a real man to wear pink, but what about drag? “I haven’t done anything like this before “” being that vulnerable on stage,” he said.

Relos admits that acting in drag certainly has its challenges, most mental and physical, but it’s also a lot of fun to step so far outside himself. “(Dr. Frank N. Furter’s) just so ridiculous and so over the top,” Relos said. “I can have fun no matter what.”

“It’s a lot of fun to costume a show like this,” costume designer Sam Matson said. “You get to be outlandish and work with different rules.” She admits that she’s enjoyed outfitting the cast in such fun fare, but it’s also quite challenging.

Because The Rocky Horror Picture Show is so well-known, both as a film and a stage production, it’s difficult to make your own mark without disappointing the audience.

“The challenge is balancing the familiar with the unexpected,” she said. “I’m keeping Eddie and Columbia (iconic characters) a little closer to the film to keep it familiar, and adding a bit of difference (to others) to keep it fresh.”

As for directing the film, there’s no better person to take on the task than a man who went to see the film in the 1980s “” dressed in his underwear.

“When I was in college we would go to see the movie every weekend in our underwear at UNCG, so it takes me back to those days,” director Stephen Hale said. “I can’t help but smile when I hear these songs.”

Hale calls the show, both the movie and stage version, a Halloween classic.

“The show and the movie poke fun at those early Halloween science-fiction films, so it really ties into that Halloween theme,” Hale said. “I think it’s going to be a great show.”

“Anybody who’s familiar with the movie can come and interact with the show just like they would with the movie. There’s those ad lib lines that are shouted during the pauses, so you can still have the same fun.”

Hale adds that since the Carolina Theater is strict about what it allows on its stage, “prop gift bags” will be available for sale with a small water gun, newspaper, noise makers and rubber gloves to help the audience participate.

“It’s just a fun show,” Hale said. “During rehearsals I’ll be sitting there, and I’ll forget to take notes because I’m so into watching them perform.” !WANNA go?

Open Space Cafe Theatre’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show runs Wednesday through Friday on the Crown Stage at Carolina Theater, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Thursday’s performance includes the showing of the film in the main downstairs theater. Tickets are $24. For tickets and more information visit or call the Carolina box office at 333-2605.