“The Rocky Horror Show” is not a musical, but rather an experience, whether you see it as part of an interactive movie showing or live on stage. Theatre Under the Stars has embraced this notion to great success with their latest production in the smaller Zilka Hall at The Hobby Center.
Originally a part of the now defunct “TUTS Underground” series, “The Rocky Horror Show” benefits greatly from the more intimate, 500-seat smaller venue. The ensemble, dressed as movie theater ushers, interact with the audience pre-show and are often present in the aisles or sides of the audience to interact and expand the story beyond the “fourth wall.” And of course, Rocky fans already know that much of the fun is the audience interaction and “call-backs” throughout the script. TUTS has embraced this and even sells $5 “prop bags” so the audience will have the proper supplies to use during these moments. Here’s a list:
As to the show itself, it is everything one could ask for from a live staging. All the familiar characters and songs are here, the costumes, while not always direct copies of what was worn in the cult classic movie, are great nonetheless and the casting is spot-on. TUTS veteran Susan Koozin is perfect as The Narrator, while Adam Gibbs, Madison Turner and Erin Wasmund are all excellent as Riff Raff, Columbia and Magenta, respectively. Mason Butler’s Rocky and Ryan Patrick Smith’s double-turn as Eddie & Dr. Scott are all lots of fun. Connor Lyon and Scott Harrison are lovely as Janet & Brad. But the real standout was Pierre Alexandre, bringing stunning physique and a commanding voice to Frank. From his first entrance to his swan song “I’m Going Home,” he owns the stage.
The on-stage band sounds terrific while never overpowering the singers. At Saturday’s early show (they do a 7:30pm and a 10:30pm performance for this run), the audience was loud and interactive from the first note. I’ve always thought that “Rocky Horror” was a good score in search of a comparable story. Those familiar with the book know that the narrative itself is, to quote the show, a “strange journey” but who cares. If you enter the theatre and follow the show’s advice of “Don’t dream it – be it” you’ll likely have a smashing good time.
One note of warning for those “virgins” among us – this show is NOT for the faint of heart, those with closed minds or people easily offended. I’m often puzzled by people who pay for a theatre ticket only to be shocked by the show’s content. This production does not hold back and embraces the sexuality and openness that has made this show a cult classic.
**** out of *****
“The Rocky Horror Show”
Book, Music & Lyrics by Richard O’Brien
Directed by Mitchell Greco
Theatre Under the Stars – The Hobby Center
Now through November 20th
Photo: Madison Turner as Columbia, Adam Gibbs as Riff Raff, Erin Wasmund as Magenta, Scott Harrison as Brad Majors, Connor Lyon as Janet Weiss and the company of “The Rocky Horror Show” at Theatre Under the Stars