Ron, Jack (in tux/goatee) and members
of the Wild and Untamed Things
at the "Confessions" book party
How did you find Rocky?
This story is actually chronicled in my book, "Confessions of a Transylvanian" (www.RockyConfessions.com) but the short version goes something like this: I was first introduced to the music from the film by my uncle, long before I ever saw the movie itself. And while the experience of seeing and participating in Rocky was described to me (the callbacks, the costumes, the performers, the throwing of properly timed items), it would be about three years between first hearing the soundtrack (circa 1979) and actually seeing the live show (1982). Once I did, I was hooked. I signed up that first night with the local cast and began performing the following week. Once Rocky gets into your blood, it's there for life.
What was your involvement with it? How did it change your life?
I performed in the Deerfield Beach, Florida Rocky show- the "Wild and Untamed Things"- during my Junior and Senior years of high school, beginning as a Transylvanian, working my way up to full-time Dr. Scott, then understudy Riff-Raff, then full-time Riff-Raff and eventually, at the ripe old age of seventeen, Cast Director. After that, sadly, the theatre management shut down the show and, while we briefly tried to resurrect the experience at a smaller, less suitable theatre, I finally walked away and left for college that Fall. But I never lost touch with my Rocky family from those days and they are, even now, a huge part of my life even thirty years later.
Jack as Riff
The second question is really the key question, though, isn't it? Growing up where I did, there were very few options for a teenager. I wasn't a jock, I didn't play in a band, I wasn't particularly popular at school. The temptation to get lost in the drug culture in Florida was strong but, thank God, Rocky came along and rescued me from that basement-dwelling, bong-sucking existence. Instead of numbing my brain to life's possibilities, I expanded my mind exponentially by hooking up with the oddest collection of freaks, weirdos, tramps, vagabonds, vixens, faggots and miscreants it has ever been my pleasure to meet. Change my life? Hell, Rocky saved my life.
What about your "real life" after Rocky?
After graduating college in '87 with a degree in Theatre, I moved to Chicago and began my career in the arts. Since then, I have performed in dozens of shows at theatres like the Goodman, Next Theatre, Oak Park Festival and Peninsula Players, among others. I have directed a couple dozen plays as well at Oak Park Festival, Lifeline Theatre, City Lit and CT20 Ensemble, where I served as Artistic Director. I am proud to have received three Joseph Jefferson nominations for my directing work. I have two published plays, adaptations of Thomas Heywood's "Fair Maid of the West" and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Sign of the Four" (the latter in conjunction with Shanghai Low Theatricals) both of which are available through Dramatic Publishing (www.dramaticpublishing.com). This summer, I am performing the title role in William Shakespeare's "Richard III" for the Oak Park Festival and next year will appear at the same theatre as Salieri in "Amadeus."
Jack as Riff
What has been your recent involvement with Rocky?
Since high school, my Rocky hookups have been sporadic at best. I catch a show when I can but, until we began promoting the book, I hadn't been really fully active in the Rocky community for many years. The Wild and Untamed Things did have a twenty-fifth reunion show back in 2007, however: the "Faithful Handymen" cast down in Hollywood, Florida graciously lent us their stage at Flippers Hollywood for the night, allowing us the chance to relive our old RHPS days one last time. It was an unbelievable experience.
More recently, I dropped by the convention in Cincinnati back in June to try to reconnect with the Rocky faithful and let them know that the book was set to be released. I wasn't sure of what kind of reception I would get but, to my surprise and delight, I was welcomed with open arms from the moment I arrived. Becoming a member of the Rocky fold is like joining a fraternity or sorority, in a way. Once you're a brother (or sister), you're in the club forever. The folks in Cincinnati proved to me that this still holds true.
Writing and preparing "Confessions" for publication has been an extraordinary experience for both co-author Ron Fox (castmate and former Brad in Deerfield Beach and North Hollywood) and me. Reliving our old Transylvanian days, rehashing the stories from back when the show was fresh and alive for us, recounting how we all met, came together and created something so amazing we could hardly describe it. I can only hope that those who are currently performing the show all over the country are able to keep those same connections with their casts even long after they walk away from the show and hang up their fishnets. If so, they will have crafted friendships that can, and should, last a lifetime. Good luck!