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Truman grad mans the Meatloaf role in “Rocky Horror” at Bucks County Playhouse


It would seem to be a no-brainer to offer “Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show," that monster mash of a macabre musical, as a trick or treatise on self-empowerment for the hallowed traditions of Halloween.

And Eddie, one of the show's characters, has half-a-mind to agree with that notion.

Of course that's all he has — half-a-mind — but, then, what better time for a time warp to explain how that happened in this timeless musical celebrating its 50th anniversary — and return engagement — with a revelatory new production directed by Hunter Foster, now at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope?

Revival of a hit, yes, but it's no restoration comedy. What it is is a chance to laugh out loud at the danceable dynamics of a dark and stormy night with a cast of cross-dressing, crossed-up characters caught in the perfect storm for abs and absurdity in this much-anticipated keeper of a musical comedy of transgenerational and transvestic interest.

Stanley Martin marvels at being part of the cast. But then, as Eddie, hasn't he been primed for this prime beef of a role? After all, "I played 'Sweeney Todd' my senior year at Truman High," in Levittown, says Martin of the dashing, throat-slashed judge he portrayed nearly 20 years ago in a production directed by the legendary Lou Volpe, who ran the drama program at Harry S Truman High School.

Martin loved the experience, and revels in having been a student of Volpe's.

"He taught me a lot," Martin says of the dramatic change the teacher made in his life.

Not that the venerated Volpe was alone in helping choreograph Martin's stage directions. The actor also extends kudos to teacher Gina Andreoli, who tutored his talents for playing a diversity of parts.

But bravos begin at home, acknowledges Martin, proudly giving the bulk of the credit to his parents, Marty and Pat Krzywonos. She owns and operates Step II Dance Center; he runs The Piano Shoppe, with an expertise in repairs and tuning.

Which is the major reason, claims their son, he is so attuned to what theater has to offer. That and the fact that his folks' fulsome talents extended to their choreographing, producing and directing so many shows throughout Bucks County.

But when it came to Martin claiming parts, his mother was somewhat judgmental.

"When I got the role as the judge in 'Sweeney Todd,' she asked, 'Do you have to be in a show where you die?'"

Martin does have a way of turning up as dead meat in roles.

Still, he has done a variety of victimless parts in the past at the Bucks County Playhouse ("Hairspray," "42nd Street," "Big") and at the Walnut Street Theatre ("White Christmas," "The Music Man," "West Side Story.")

But there's another side to this accomplished actor's story: What good is sitting alone in your room, when you can come hear — and make — the music play? He's done just that, writing, starring in and directing cabarets. As a playwright, he proved to be an award winner, taking the plum prize at the Strawberry One Act Festival in New York. It's all part of thinking-outside-the-box theater, he says, of extending oneself.

Plaudits galore, but no self-patting on the back for his protean productions: "I'm a jack of all trades," says Martin.

Indeed, he almost hijacked an entire production of Bristol Riverside Theatre's "Romeo and Juliet" when he made his stage debut at 10, playing the Prince's Page. "I had one line," he laughs.

But the lines he says these days show he can deliver — even as Eddie, whose lot in life before he met his sad fate in "Rocky Horror" was as a delivery boy.

And how Martin delivered as well for "Aladdin": He was part of the Broadway production for so many years, he might have earned a right to have one of his own wishes come true. And that would be?

"I would love to originate a role on Broadway," he says.

Before possibly climbing that mountain, he has to deal with his down-to-Earth casket status in "Rocky Horror." How can such a deadbeat as Eddie get a chance to do the lead beats in one of the show's best numbers, "Hot Patootie"?

And with an international following, it's not only Eddie, the onetime bun to Dr. Frank-n-Furter's hot dog antics, who gets to wonder if this is a good time for a time warp — and warped — musical.

Martin muses, then laughs. "It's always a good time!"

Michael Elkin is a playwright, theater critic and novelist who lives in Abington. He writes columns about theater and the arts.

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