The sci-fi parody turned cult classic, The Rocky Horror Show, has sauntered its way back to the stage in a sexy, snarky and seamless production directed by James Vásquez at the Old Globe Theatre.
Originally, The Rocky Horror Show was a stage play created by Richard O’Brien in 1973. After a successful run in London and a not-so-successful run on Broadway, the live show was adapted into a movie by O’Brien and Jim Sharman with the title, Rocky Horror Picture Show. Soon after its theatrical release, the movie producers began midnight screenings, which soon gave rise to the legendary audience participation aspect of the show, including yelling out ad libs, throwing food and using props. Devout RHPS groupies are so numerous that no matter which performance you attend, whether it be live or on the big screen, you are almost always certain to witness the unparalleled phenomenon of the audience “call backs.”
My one and only viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture show was behind a shroud of booze, way back in the 90’s, so my recollection of it is a bit spotty. I of course remember that it was bizarre and that it featured one of my favorite songs “The Time Warp.” Based on my vague memory, the pop-culture hype and the underbelly cult-fervor surrounding the show, I had high hopes for this performance. I am happy to report that it did not disappoint. In fact, it not only met my expectations, it raised them, by a platform.
The cast of this Old Globe production is exceptional. From the moment the usher (Jason Wooten, also plays Riff Raff) and the usherette (Laura Shoop, also plays Magenta) creep onto stage for the opening number, Science Fiction Double Feature, the magic begins. Everything about them sets the tone for the salacious world about to be revealed. Then, enters the narrator, played by the suave David Andrew MacDonald. In this role, MacDonald has fused together The Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World with Tim Meadow’s character, The Ladies Man, finding a perfect balance between cheeky sex appeal and dry humor. Each time he reappears, you’re sure to have a laugh.
Jeanna de Waal and Kelsey Kurz, play Brad and Janet, the two unsuspecting, newly engaged goodie-goodies about to see much more flesh then they ever bargained for. The juxtaposition of their Sandra Dee/Marty McFly-ness next to the tatted, pierced and barely clothed inhabitants of “the castle” is not lost on the audience, and makes their provocative encounters in ACT II even more intriguing.
Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia (Nadine Isenegger) knocked my socks off with the glam rock version of The Time Warp. It also made me wish I had worn sheer black thigh highs with a garter under my boots rather than socks.
Then, I fell corset over high heels for Dr. Frank N. Furter, (Matt McGrath) with his Sweet Transvestite grand entrance. And, with each subsequent song he sang, I fell more deeply in love. McGrath’s sultry adaptation of this character certainly lives up to his “sonic transducer” moniker.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the title character, Rocky Horror, or as I’ve dubbed him, Michaelangelo’s David Incarnate, played by Sydney James Harcourt. Someone’s been doing his P90X. And, I’m pretty sure he can sing.
A highlight of the show for me was “the Floor Show,” in the second act, a Vegas-style drag/burlesque show complete with feathers, leather, and a lot of skin. The maudlin refrain of “Don’t dream it, be it,” has been on my mind since I walked out of the theatre.
As outlandish and seedy and as the characters and script might be, there is something compelling about Rocky Horror Show; something endearing and familiar. Though originally intended to be a spoof, RHS also contains underlying messages of tolerance and acceptance, which is most likely the reason it has achieved its mega-cult-status. It strikes a chord with people. In the midst of making us laugh til it hurts and dance in our chairs, it makes us think and feel okay in our skin. By the time Frank and the gang sing “I’m Going Home,” in the middle of ACT II, I felt like I already was.
Now, if you’re still questioning whether or not this show is for you, I came up with a litmus test of sorts, so you can know for sure. You know you’ll love this show if:
- You love to be thoroughly entertained.
- You love comedy in the form of parody, sarcasm and studded leather.
- You’ve never seen it and are really curious about the hype.
- You’ve seen the movie a thousand times and have your own prop kit complete with newspaper and flashlight.
- You’re not afraid of a little silhouetted, transgender sex, some nipple pinching and the word that rhymes with punt (only used in occasional audience “call backs”).
- You have a dark side.
- You deny having a dark side, but really do.
- You want to get into the Halloween spirit but would rather shove a toothpick under your fingernail than go to another haunted house.
- You really enjoy live theatre, good music and a well-produced show.
If any, or all of these descriptions apply to you, then you will love this show.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.TheOldGlobe.org, by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE or by visiting the Box Office at 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. The show runs through Sunday, November 6th. Don’t miss it!
My final note is to grab a prop kit in the lobby for $3.00. You don’t want to be left in the dark . . .
Disclosure: I loved this show and not just because I was given two complimentary tickets and was allowed to bring my wine into the theatre (but that certainly was a perk!). My opinions are my own.