BWW Reviews: Don't Miss THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW

BWW Reviews:  Don't Miss THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW Who out there doesn't know THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW or, at least, the film musical version, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW? Well, as it turns out, at least six people the night I went... but I digress. THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is the live stage version of what became the most successful flop in cinema history. A musical with music, lyrics and a book by Richard O'Brien, the show is a twisted tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the late 1940s on. The show tells the tale of Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple who get caught in a storm and take refuge in the castle of a mad transvestite scientist, Dr. Frank-n-Furter, on the night of the unveiling of his new creation, a muscle man named Rocky Horror. The original London production premiered in 1973 and closed in 1980, running for a total of 2,960 performances and winning the 1973 Evening Standard Award for Best Musical. The film version was largely panned by critics, but eventually found new life as a late night event when audiences began participating with the film back in 1976.

Audiences returned to see the film multiple times and began talking back to the screen, dressing as the characters, and, in general, ended up inventing what we know today as the midnight movie and cosplay. Still in limited release over four decades after its premiere, it is the longest-running theatrical release in film history. It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2005.

This brings me to the current production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW now playing in rep with HEATHERS at Salvage Vanguard... and it's a winner! Michael McKelvey has done an excellent job staging the show. The pacing and use of the space is near perfect, the stage picture is always interesting and inventive and the whole thing runs like a demented, runaway steam train... exactly like it should. And there are some small touches he has added that are inspired... but I don't want to spoil that for you.

I must start by talking about the ensemble here and praise is indeed warranted. This is one of the most energetic choruses I have ever seen. Their execution of both vocals and choreography is spot on... and I can't remember a time when I saw a group on stage that looked like they were having this much fun. As for the choreography, Madison Piner has done an impressive job here and the ensemble performs it all with snap and precision. It was an absolute joy to watch.

Vocally, this may well be the best company I have seen in Austin. This whole company is very strong; but there are some standout performances that are worth mentioning. Chase Brewer delivers a deliciously nerdy Brad Majors and is a scene stealer in the best possible way. Celeste Castillo is the perfect mix of charming and alarming as the Usherette. Gray Randolph does a great job of distancing his performance as Dr. Frank-n-Furter from Tim Curry and manages to make the role his own. Hayley Smith is perfection as Janet Majors. Keaton Jadwin, Michelle Alexander and Sarah Zeringu are terrific as Frank's cohorts Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia.

The lighting by Sam Chesney is very effective and enhances the work onstage. If I had any quibbles with this production, it would be with Glenda Barnes costuming. Instead of enforcing or even riffing off of the look of scifi classics, her take seems more 80's hair band. This even extended to places where hair seemed more like A Flock of Seagulls than Rocky Horror. However, this is a small quibble when the show you are experiencing is this much fun.

If you are a fan of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, or even if you aren't, this is a hugely fun production of the musical that you really don't want to miss.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW by Richard O'Brien

Running time: Approximately 90 minutes, performed without an intermission.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, produced by Doctuh Mistuh Productions, plays The Salvage Vanguard Theater (2803 E. Manor Road) now thru July 11th. Performances are: Wednesday, July 1 @ 7:30pm, Friday, July 3 @ 11 PM, Wednesday, July 8th @ 7:30pm and Friday - Saturday, July 10th & 11th @ 11 PM. Tickets start at $25; Student tickets are $15. For tickets and information, please visit: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1634201


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