Donkey dancing in NYC
Jordan Roth '97 sees his disco show into a second year and opens anew
Rocky Horror Picture Show
by David Marcus '92
a Saturday night in a New York club, a topless woman in pasties
comes up to Jordan Roth '97, who gives her a kiss on the cheek and
congratulates her on another successful performance.
Dressed in a black turtleneck sweater, jeans, and a navy blue Notre
Dame hat, Roth may look like another reveler, but he's the producer
here at The Donkey Show, a stylized interpretation of Shakespeare's
A Midsummer Night's Dream set to disco music and performed by actors
wearing outrageous 1970s attire - or, as in the case of the woman
and several men in thongs, little attire at all.
An aspiring actor as a youth, Roth enjoyed performing in plays
for Theatre Intime while at Princeton, but by the time he was a
senior,he didn't want to stay on the stage. "There wasn't nearly
enough control for me in that," he says. "Producing was
a better fit for me in terms of blending the artistic interests
with a business mind with creative thinking." Roth moved back
to New York after college, where some of his friends were working
on the idea that became The Donkey Show. "I fell in love with
it and thought, 'We have to make something big out of this,'"
Roth says. "I didn't figure out that that meant I was producing
this until it was up and running."
The show's venue is on 23d Street near 10th Avenue, in New York's
club district, but its audience includes parents out with their
college-age daughters and couples dressed like they should be in
a Greenwich country club rather than a Chelsea dance club. "We
always knew that [the show] was a hybrid," Roth says. "There's
a very hard-core club market, and that's about rotating DJs and
promoters and staying out until 4 in the morning. This is a much
more mainstream experience for people who want to come out and dance
and have fun with their friends and be part of a fantastic party."
of the partyers are women about to be married, a market niche Roth
was quick to seize on. "Our biggest demographic is bachlorette
parties," Roth says. "We started to see two and then three
and then four groups of women and one of them would be wearing a
veil." As a result, "We're in bridal shows, bridal magazines,
bridal websites. We have a bachlorette package where the bride gets
in free and everybody gets a glass of champagne."
The Donkey Show's success in both New York and London, where it
opened last year, has allowed Roth to produce a stage version of
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the 1970s cult film classic. "I've
always been a major Rocky fan. I have a distinct memory of going
to a show in the Butler dining room, but I assure you that I was
time-warping far before that," Roth says, referring to one
of the movie's famous dances.
Roth's Rocky is running on Broadway, and he hopes to adapt it to
the format that has worked so well in The Donkey Show, whose structure
was itself influenced by aspects of Rocky. Both inspire audience
participation with 1970s music that makes even the chronically unhip
feel gyrationally adept. Roth aims to foster that feeling at The
Donkey Show: "The vibe is crucial, because we are creating
a kind of experience for our audiences where people feel free to
let themselves go."