Saturday, October 15, 2011

Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show Camps Out at The Old Globe

Matt McGrath and Sydney James
Harcourt. Photos by Henry DiRocco

No one could have guessed that when Richard O’Brien combined his love of late night sci-fi movies (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Flash Gordon) with the look and sound of 1970s glam rockers like David Bowie (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars) a cultural phenomenon was about to be born. What started as a way to have a few laughs became the granddaddy cult classic of them all, The Rocky Horror Show.

Watching sweet transvestite Frank ‘N’ Furter and his minions from the alien planet of transsexual Transylvania may not be as shocking as it once was, but the show still continues to fulfill its original purpose, push a few buttons, and offer up one helluva good time. If you haven’t seen a production in awhile, do yourself a favor and make the drive down to The Old Globe in San Diego. Director James Vazquez and JT Horenstein, responsible for the musical staging and choreography, have put together a stylish Rocky that keeps the laughs coming…and coming.

Audience engagement is alive and well. You can purchase an audience participation kit with props to throw and instructions about what to shout, and when, before the show begins. And I have to say, there’s something really funny about looking over and seeing otherwise serious theatre patrons (many over the age of 60) raising newspapers over their head, waving lights, and shouting “Say It!” when Frank takes a long pause during the word “antici….pation.”

The story set-up finds innocent lovebirds Brad and Janet stranded during a rainstorm in the middle of nowhere, giving the phrase, “it was a dark and stormy night,” a whole new meaning…especially when they land on the doorstep of sweet transvestite Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter. Inside the Frankenstein place they find a kind of over-stimulated time warp where their own sexual boundaries are about to be crossed, cross-dressing is the rage, and nothing is really what it seems. It’s all quite silly, and intended to be such, so be prepared to give yourself over to the campy humor for maximum enjoyment.

A kickass onstage band led by musical director Mike Wilkins and full throttle performances by the cast keep the energy in high gear, played out on Donyale Werle’s kitschy neon/techno-themed set. Grainy black and white projections by Aaron Rhyne enhance the 1950s movie house feel along with Rui Rita’s textural lighting and Emily Rebholz’s bawdy, colorful costumes.

The role of Frank ‘N’ Furter comes with a long legacy attached, including the original performance of Tim Curry immortalized on film, but a seductive Matt McGrath puts his own spin on it with his playful yet menacing presence. The way he tosses a smart aleck aside to the audience over his shoulder is absolutely hysterical, while posing with his hip thrust to the right pouting like a Goth Tinkerbell in black bustier, fish nets stockings and heels. His nemisis, David Andrew Macdonald, is the handsome, tall drink of water who narrates the show before turning into his alter ego, Dr. Scott.

Cast of The Rocky Horror Show

Laura Shoop and Jason Wooten double as the Ushers who invite you into the show and brother and sister/lovers Magenta and Riff Raff. Wooten is a straight up hard rocker with a wicked high tenor who previously played the role on Broadway and Shoop’s throaty European accent plays well in tandem.

As the sweet and virginal Janet and her obtuse boyfriend Brad, Jeanna de Waal and Kelsey Kurz have a few tricks up their sleeves, none the least of which are their own surprisingly powerful singing voices, and Nadine Isenegger’s Columbia is a spitfire of angst who taps up a storm. And then there’s Rocky (Sydney James Harcourt), created by Frank ‘N’ Furter as the perfect companion - muscular, athletic and sexy…and yes boys and girls, he can sing, dance and move in ways that will amaze you.

The Old Globe’s splashy and enticing "science fiction double feature" is a winner from beginning to end so rock out with the show before it closes on November 6th!

An additional upcoming event for you die-hard Rocky fans out there is the Rocky Horror Costume Bash on October 28th. See the performance and join the cast at the after-party in the Prado Ballroom, complete with a DJ, dancing and costume contest. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be provided by the Cohn Restaurant Group. Plus, director James Vasquez will be on hand to teach the “Time Warp.” Click Here for ticket information for the costume bash.

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