If the word theater conjures images of serious thespians and quiet, inactive audiences, think again.

What If? Production’s Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is anything but traditional. Saucy Jack, which has been compared to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is loved by a cult following whose ritual items include thigh-high glittery boots and bubble wrap.

What If? Productions, noted for their production of Evan Linder’s Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche, pushes the envelope of local theater in Charleston.

“If you’re not challenging yourself, then you might as well go home,” says Kyle Barnette, What If?’s co-founder. Saucy was a perfect fit for the young production company. “We like to choose shows we’ve never seen,” says Barnette. “Saucy Jack is clever, like watching an outer space superhero musical.”

Inspired by PURE Theatre, What If? found Charlestonians hungry for new theater. “You don’t want to duplicate something done by someone else that’s well done,” Barnette says. And turning popular wedding venue the American Theater into a sketchy space bar was definitely something new and perfect for Saucy’s audience interaction.

When you go to a production of Saucy, you are no longer just a theatergoer but a patron of a futuristic space bar. Soon you find yourself caught up in a whodunnit mystery with an unusual list of suspects. There’s Saucy Jack himself, a skeevy bar owner. Then there are the Space Vixens, who Barnette describes as a group of psychedelic ball-busting space cops. Rounding out the roster is the secretive bar staff. Saucy blends the mystery of a serial murderer with electronic musical numbers like “Plastic Leather and Love” and “Glitter Boots Saved My Life.”

Barnette insists that the key to What If?’s success so far has been its talent, not just the risky show choices. “You get a cool script, but if you don’t have the right people, it’s not worth it,” he says.

What If? has assembled a mix of experienced actors and youth for Saucy. Co-founder Brian Porter, also the administrative director at Charleston Stage, stars as the titular bar owner. Porter has a history with progressive theater roles, most notably starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch —  What If?’s first production — about a transsexual singer during the fall of the Berlin Wall. Barnette says, “He’s great, he’s got this ambiguous sexiness,” which is perfect for the double-entendre-dropping Saucy.

Along with Porter for the futuristic romp is Prentice Clark, who makes her What If? debut. Clark is the daughter of Charleston Stage’s associate director Marybeth Clark and is a graduating senior of Charleston School of Arts. “She’s a full-on pro,” says Barnette, who has known Clark since she was a toddler.

Be sure, Barnette, Porter, Clark, and the rest of the cast and crew are ready to knock your glitter boots off this weekend. The show opens Thurs. Jan. 30.

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