Rocky Horror and everything that surrounds it is like a cult that’s open to everyone, as long as you’re wearing thigh high stockings and prepared to sing. For those unfamiliar with Rocky Horror, I’ll give you a quick history. The Rocky Horror Show was originally a play that premiered in London in 1973. It did quite well, which prompted the creation of the film The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975. The film version is the one that most people are familiar with today, and Tim Curry stars as the main character Dr. Frank N. Furter in both the original London play and the original film.
At first I was a little hesitant to see a live production of Rocky Horror, because to me the movie is so perfect there was no need to view other interpretations of it. I also hold the strong belief that no one can play Dr. Frank like Tim Curry. However, because of the production’s roots in live theatre, and because I really can’t miss an opportunity to dress up, I decided I’d go check out Crystal Amazement’s production of The Rocky Horror Show.
The experience was definitely different from the film, but that was to be expected. I was pleasantly surprised to see a live band playing all the musical numbers, and even interacting with the cast at some points during the show. The show had some sound issues during the first act, making it hard to hear the vocals during the musical numbers. That was resolved at intermission, making it much easier to get fully immersed in the show for act II. When I first heard the commanding voice of Dr. Frank N. Furter (Played by John McRae), my whole body tensed up, unsure of what to expect, or how this version of Dr. Frank would measure up. When McRae stepped down the stairs in his fishnets and corset, I was shocked at how confidently he carried himself. He had this mesmerizing way of walking, which can only be described as a tipsy housewife attempting seduction. Whether or not he was doing this on purpose, it fit his character perfectly. Magenta (Raissa Simone) and Columbia (Nikki Clementine) were out of this world, their high-energy personalities filling the room every time they were onstage. Janet (Erin Hand) was perfectly cast, with her angelic singing voice being quite similar to Susan Sarandon’s from the film.
My only real disappointment with the production was the lack of audience participation. Friends had told me stories of audience members bringing props, as well as certain lines that were to be yelled at the actors at different times. There was a sort of tension in the room, because many knew that audience participation was encouraged, but were not entirely sure in which capacity. This lack of participation was less the fault of the actors, but more, I believe, due to a lack of communication between the production company and the attendees.
Crystal Amazement has a beautiful website with all sorts of information about the cast, show history, and audience participation expectations. Having this information on the Facebook event page may have helped to outline where and when audience participation was welcomed. About one quarter of the audience was dressed in costume— my MUSE work-wife Charlotte and myself included. We overheard many people saying, “Man, I wish I knew people were dressing up, I would have done that for sure.” First of all: If you’re going to Rocky Horror, ALWAYS assume people are dressing up. Second, I did have this discussion with a few friends before the show and they said that since it wasn’t posted in the Facebook group, they were unsure as to whether or not to wear costumes.
Moral of the story: if you want people to participate in anything nowadays, you have to post explicit instructions on your Facebook event. Despite the lack of participation, the night was still a roaring success. There were laughs in every scene, and the whole cast played their characters true to form, while also injecting some of their own personalities into the roles. I left the show feeling a spring in my step, “The Time Warp” in my head, and if we’re being honest, probably a little turned on.
The Rocky Horror Show runs From October 28th-October 31st at Convocation Hall. Tickets are available here.
Paige Guscott, Online Reviewer