What little shred of gender identity in the original script was expunged as nearly every role had some element of male/female impersonation, including creative director Cassidy Warner as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a girl performing as a guy dressed up like a girl.
The one-off staging was part of a monthly variety show at The Hidden Castle featuring the best of the best of the Bang Bang collective. Music, drag, burlesque and sideshow entertainers are culled from the weekly Wednesday-night shows that have become an important outlet for an entire performance style that had few venue options in town before Bang Bang came along.
“We like to do weird things, and we’ve gone to other venues, and the crowd there wasn’t really having it,” said Warner. “Rather than keep performing at amateur nights, we decided to put our own performance together. There really wasn’t anything like this before.”
Appropriately named, The Hidden Castle is tucked away behind a gas station in west Norman; a venue in one form or another for years, it’s always maintained its castle facade. It’s only recently that owner Kelly Kelsay has made a serious go at establishing the Castle as a haven for unique shows.
The Hidden Castle’s other monthly event, “Le Tepes Rouge,” is 18 to enter. Running the first Saturday each month, it focuses more on burlesque, pole dancing, aerial acrobatics and comedy. Like Bang Bang’s performances, such an event simply didn’t exist in Norman — and for good reason, according to Kelsay.
“There was a set of laws in Norman called the ‘adult entertainment laws,’” he said. “It came to our attention that they could very easily be interpreted to not allow several types of entertainment, like belly dancing, burlesque, any ‘exotic’ dancing.”
Kelsay took part in a series of meetings to clarify the law and establish a set of guidelines that kept Castle events on the right side legally.
Having that freedom is important to performers like Warner, who were tired of having to drive up to Oklahoma City either to watch or perform in something like Bang Bang. She admitted getting the word out has been challenging, but fighting for the creative collective’s survival is worth it.
“We need to have a creative outlet. It’s a passion project for all of us,” Warner said. “We don’t really care how much we make.”