Play: The Rocky Horror Show
Group: NonProphet Theater and DramaRama Theatre
Venue: Southampton Presbyterian Church, 4716 Macklind
Dates: October 29, 30, 31
Story: As devoted fans of the cult flick undoubtedly know, intrepid heroes Brad and Janet experience car trouble after leaving the wedding of two friends, en route to visit their old college professor, Dr. Scott. Asking for assistance at a nearby castle, they are welcomed into the exotic lair of the lascivious Frank-N-Furter and his raunchy cohorts. While sexually servicing both of his guests, Frank tells them about his newest creation, the muscular man-child Rocky. Meanwhile, the arrival of Dr. Scott’s nephew Eddie and then Dr. Scott himself, along with some internal problems among his disciples, leaves Frank in a precarious position.
First produced in London in 1973, this campy musical by composer, lyricist and librettist Richard O’Brien is part send-up of kitschy science-fiction movies of the ‘50s and part commentary on the changing sexual mores of Western society in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The 1975 movie version played the midnight circuit for decades and helped launch the careers of Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Tim Curry.
Highlights: This NonProphet Theater presentation is the second local production in the past few months, following an effort by (Insert Name Here) Theatre in July. A pair of performers from the earlier show, Paula Stoff Dean and Leo Gregory Stoff, reprise their roles as Frank’s slavish maid Magenta and his naïve creature Rocky, respectively. Erin Almand capably demonstrates her vocal abilities as Janet, while Rachel Hanks gets the show off to a fine start as the Usherette warbling Science Fiction/Double Feature.
Other Info: The cast on opening night was engaged in a mostly unsuccessful battle to raise their voices above the deafening din of the band, faring best on ensemble numbers such as The Time Warp, although the problem was somewhat addressed in the second act. Still, the tiny performance space in the basement of Southampton Presbyterian Church seemingly requires little need for amplification that hinders the cast’s ability to be heard.
That band, which is quite good apart from the volume control, features John Thomas at the keyboards, guitarist Nick Baur, Michael Monsey on bass, saxophonist Matt McKeever and drummer Robin Weatherall, all handling O’Brien’s lively score with aplomb.
Robert A. Mitchell has a grand time as the outrageous Frank-N-Furter, dressed like a refugee from Flower Drum Song, complete with garish geisha gear and wan makeup. Dean and Laura Coppinger camp it up effectively as Magenta and Frank’s groupie, Columbia, and James Cougar Canfield is appropriately way over the top as Frank’s creepy assistant, Riff Raff. Almand and Cliff Turner effectively play the wide-eyed innocents, Janet and Brad, while Robert Ashton is quite amusing as the droll narrator, dressed in lavender and black to complement his parlor room set.
Jonathan Ellison has the briefest of roles as Eddie, Tom Lehmann is the mysterious Dr. Scott and the quartet of alluring “Phantoms” who patrol the audience and the stage are comprised of Hanks, Elizabeth Graveman, Sarah Wieck and Elisabeth Zimmerman.
Director Sarah Lynne Holt keeps the show zipping along and maintains the cheesy erotic effects, with Kay Allen contributing choreography that is controlled by the cozy confines of the stage. Michele Sansone’s costumes highlight Frank’s bizarre realm, with the functional set lit by Heather Tucker, and complementary sound design by Michael Perkins.
Even if the volume situation can’t be solved, it’s likely that fans of the show will sing along to the lyrics of the familiar tunes, anyway, for a fine Halloween romp.
Rating: A 3.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.