Welcome RHCR Theatre!

Cedar Rapids – A new theatre has arrived in the Corridor. This one’s mission is to provide a place for local artists to create their art while making a little money too. RHCR Theatre is the brainchild of Matt Ford, a veteran of the Cedar Rapids theatre scene. His first show was last year’s Rocky Horror Show. In November, he will produce CLUE: The Play at the Scottish Rite Temple in Cedar Rapids. Cast list is below. We had an email conversation with him about his new venture. 


What does the name stand for? Why did you choose it?

The name really doesn’t stand for anything. It is just an acronym. It is a nod to the first show I ever produced, last year’s production of The Rocky Horror Show. But really the name is just a reference to that. RHCR Theatre is much more than Rocky.

Do you see doing Rocky as an annual show?

No. We will not be putting on The Rocky Horror Show again anytime in the near future. If I had to do it all over again, I am not sure I would pick that show to be my first show. There was just so much involved, the music, the dancing, the acting, the set, the lights, the microphones, the costumes……it was just a lot. Don’t get me wrong, my cast and crew put on a hell of a show. I am very proud of them. They worked their asses off! RHS is still my all time favorite musical but now that I have done it the way I wanted to (very movie traditional), I don’t have much interest in revisiting it. Then again, the cast just had a viewing party of the last performance that was recorded with multiple camera and edited together by the wonderfully talented, Rob Merritt (who was our Rocky), and I caught myself saying, “I should have done this” or “I wish that looked different” so who knows? Maybe again in 2016!

Who is involved in the theatre? Do you have executive director, artistic director, a core group of actors, etc?

There is not a core group per say.  I am the executive director of the theatre company.  I have people I rely on, definitely.  My wife, Jennifer,  is first and foremost my go-to person because it is our money that is funding this theatre company.  I would love to get to a point where there was enough money in the RHCR account to pay for things and I didn’t have to dip in to our personal account and hope the money gets paid back. I also trust her opinion on most things, especially music since I can’t sing at all. Deidra Benser is my Girl Friday (old reference, look it up). Without her, many things would not get done and I would have been in the looney bin after Rocky! The actors this time around were hand-picked. Last time we had auditions.  For me it depends on the show.



I read a little about RHCR on your webpage and know that your mission involves paying performers for their work. Which of course, is wonderful. What sort of financial model will allow you to do that?


I start out with a budget and go form there.  I have found that as in any situation, sticking to that budget is paramount.  Rocky went over budget plain and simple. We had good (not great) attendance, the performances rocked, the band was kick-ass, the sponsors were generous, but I lost money. Ultimately that was because I didn’t stick to my pre-planned budget. Lesson learned. The balanced formula of attendance x the right ticket price + a good show + a reasonable budget AND sponsors = a monetarily successful production.  It’s not reinventing the wheel.  It’s figuring out all those numbers so that we can keep producing great art! 

SPT Theatre also pays performers as well as writers. Their tickets are $25 – do you anticipate your ticket price to be in that range?


Rocky was $25 a ticket. SPT Theatre features a number of different elements from original writing and story-telling to professional quality singer and musicians. They are a entirely different caliber of artisans than what we are trying to do. Tickets for CLUE will be less than Rocky. It’s a play, not a musical. Less overhead. $25 was a real stretch for me. I agonized over that ticket price for a long time. I didn’t want anyone to be excluded from seeing the show because of economy. In the end, it was the only way to meet our budget. We are striving to put on theatrical performances that range from $15-$25. Advance tickets  for CLUE will be $15.

And of course I have to ask the question every artist in the corridor wants know – what do you pay?

No set pay schedule.  Depends on the show, the part within the show, the time commitment, and so on.  I can tell you that no one can support themselves by working only on a RHCR Theatre show. The production team for Rocky was all paid also. As a producer, I didn’t take a salary but as a director, my compensation and that of the assistant director and musical director was tied to the show’s profit. Since there was no profit, no pay. January to October is a long time to work on a project for no pay. I made it right for those two individuals. It was the only fair thing to do.

So Clue is coming up in November… Is it the musical version or a straight play? What made you choose that show?
Straight version adapted from the movie script by the wonderfully talented writer/director, Jonathan Lynn. The musical is horrible! YouTube it. You will see what I mean!  I saw this movie in the theater back in 1985.  I fell in love with the slapstick, farcical nature immediately. Plus the actors were so perfectly cast!  I just hope my production can be as entertaining.
How do you plan to cast shows – hold open auditions, work from a pool of actors, or something else?
The show has been cast already and the cast list can be viewed on the website www.RHCRtheatre.com. I am very excited to work with the cast that agreed to perform!  Some of them I have worked with before, and for some, it will be our first experience together.  There is one hold-over from Rocky Horror, Troy Powell who played Dr. Scott will now be playing the Elderly Evangelist/The Chief (the Howard Hessman role from the movie). He approached me when he heard I was doing another show so I must not have done a good enough job scaring him off the first time!

Do you plan to have a season of shows or work more on a show by show basis?
It will be a show by show basis. There has been talk of producing a fund-raiser cabaret for a local group of singer and I am in the process of writing the proposal for the play I would like to do next summer.  I have been approached by one of the City of CR commissions to help commemorate an anniversary for them with a theatrical performance. Nothing is set in stone yet. Many details to work out. Sorry for the secrecy. I have been asked to help produce albums and concerts by local singers. I don’t want to get spread too thin right now and stick to what I know. I can’t afford to take big risks right now. The numbers, the show, the audience all have to be there so we can continue this venture. A costly move at this  time would be bad for RHCR Theatre and very bad for my family. There are so many talented people in the Cedar Valley, it is not easy to say no but I have to think of the big picture.
What sort of shows do you plan to do? Tell us a little bit about the artistic side of the company.
I want to do shows that involves artists.  We can all agree that The Rocky Horror Showis not an award winning show.  It’s really kinda dumb and weird.  But I love the music and the people that Rocky attracts. At one performance there was a 90+ year old woman in attendance! She made her son bring her! What other show can mix transvestites and grandmas (with some light bondage thrown in)? I want to do quality performance. Sure, it would be great is the source material was Drama Desk award winning but I am more about the performance being entertaining for the audience and fulfilling for the performer. Doing what they love and making a little money also.
So in Cedar Rapids, there’s TCR, Urban Theatre Project, SPT Theatre, not to mention performance venues like the Paramount that bring in touring shows. What niche will RHCR Theatre occupy? How are you different?
Except for TCR, those other theatre groups use a core group of performers. TCR has even been criticized in the past for casting the same people over and over (it just appears that way. Just look at all the cast of Les Miserables, lots of new faces). I want to offer another opportunity for local artists to perform. Whether it be on stage or behind the scenes, I feel there is definitely room for more art in the area! The Paramount brings traveling Broadway shows to the area. I am definitely not trying to compete with that. The Paramount needs to be careful, TCR is putting out shows that rival those touring shows and for much less for the price of a ticket!
Can you sum up RHCR Theatre in one sentence?
Producing local artists who produce art for the local community.

Nice! Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us about your new theatre.  

Cast of CLUE: The Play (in order of appearance):

Wadsworth, the Butler…………………………………………..Matthew James
Yvette, the Maid…………………………………………………Alison McDermott
Mrs. Ho, the Cook……………………………………….Zhen E. Rammelsberg
Colonel Mustard…………………………………………………………..Ric Swann
Mrs. White……………………………………………………………….Jennifer Ford
Miss Scarlet…………………………………………………………..Traci Rezabek
Professor Plumb……………………………………………………….Keith Kennel
Mrs. Peacock…………………………………………………………..Deb Maynard
Mr. Green…………………………………………………………………Bryant Duffy
Mr. Boddy………………………………………………………………Duane Larson
The Motorist…………………………………………………………James Campen
The Cop…………………………………………………………..Brandon McDaniel
The Singing Telegram………………………………………………Madisyn Ford
The Elderly Evangelist/The Chief………………………………….Troy Powell




Photos by Von Presley Studios.

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One thought on “Welcome RHCR Theatre!

  1. Pingback: RHCR: Movies on Stage |

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