I do love theater. And when it comes to the classics, we wax euphoric over Shakespeare, Ibsen and Chekhov. Even when there are confusing moments in a script by current playwright Tom Stoppard, critics rave over what they consider to be genius. And then there is The Rocky Horror Show.
If the classics are like salmon and a salad, Rocky Horror Show is like Cheese Whiz. It is deliciously bad, horrendously colorful and ultimately involving and addicting. I know I shouldn’t like it, but oh my god, I do.
But I did not go willingly into that good night. I thought the movie was fun enough, but certainly it is not about any plot. Janet and Brad are newlyweds who are stranded on their honeymoon at transvestite Dr. Frank N. Furter’s castle. He is in the process of creating the perfect man, the blond haired, beautifully muscled, Rocky Horror, in his laboratory. The Pat Boone sexual tendencies of Brad and Janet go from vanilla to tutti frutti over the ensuing 90 minutes as they encounter different challenges from various characters.
The show is all about atmospherics, and it revels in a 70s sexual abandonment which does make me nostalgic for my youth. It has been, however, my opinion that the Rocky Horror groupies at the 8th Street Playhouse years ago were wannabe decadents who got together for ninety minutes once a week to play out the fantasies that others actually lived at the clubs of that time.
But a funny thing happened: suburbia embraced the Rocky Horror fantasy. Audiences dressed up as characters from the show. Some patrons arguably know the script better than the actors performing it. These audience members yell out commentary and set up unintentional one liners. It’s like choreographed heckling. The energy was amazing. With so much costume and fun, there’s a Mardi Gras abandonment that sweeps the audience up in its decadent flourish.
I have seen some unfortunate productions that are overwhelmed by too much audience chaos, where the sound onstage is eclipsed by the din from the audience. But with an excellent cast of talented actors and a production crew who controls this crazy ride, director Hunter Foster has given us a Rocky Horror that rocks.
Janet and Brad are played by Alyse Alan Louis and Nick Cearley who strike just the right tone of innocence about to go bad. They have great Broadway legit voices and are names to remember. Dr. Frank N. Furter is played with great bi-sexual aplomb by Kevin Cahoon. Jeremy Kushnier (Riff-Raff), Jennifer Cody (Columbia) and Ryah Nixon (Magenta) can rock out a number. The song “Science Fiction” with Magenta and Riff-Raff will send you into orbit. John Bolton was fantastic as the narrator, Dr. Scott and Eddie . It takes nerves of steel to address the motley crew of this show. and Bolton was the essence of quick-witted cool. And then there is the title character Rocky himself (Erik Altemus). Woof!
This show especially needs a top-notch production crew, and this crew is extraordinary. The production values are over the top, with incredible costumes and terrific lighting and sound. The Rocky Horror Show Band has to be top drawer, which is the case with the Sinai Tabak (conductor and keyboard), Mike DeFebbo (bass), Jake Hager (guitar) and Jon Ball (drums).
The show ends with the audience taking to the stage to perform the Time Warp. This show is part nostalgia, part outlandishness and part audience crazy. It is not for young children, but it is for those adults who yearn for the days when “anything goes” seemed much more innocent and without too many repercussions.
Let’s do the Time Warp again!
The show is 90 minutes long without intermission, and runs through Nov. 2 . Tickets cost $35 -$61.50, and can be ordered at (215) 862-2121, or purchased online. For those in the front orchestra section, a prop bag for audience participation is provided. This bag also can be purchased at the lobby bar for $1.