BWW Review: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is a Great Fun Evening
THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is a musical with music, lyrics and a book by Richard O'Brien. A camp tribute to the drive-in science fiction and horror B movie double features of the late 40's through early 70's, it tells the story of newly engaged couple Brad Majors (Daniel Cline) and Janet Weiss (Becca Seferian) who get caught in a storm and come to the castle of mad transvestite scientist Frank N. Furter (Kirk Kelso) on the night he unveils his new creation. That creation is an artificially made, physically perfect muscle man named Rocky (Alejandro Rodriguez), complete "with long hair and a tan". The musical was later adapted into the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which has the longest-running release in film history after bombing at the box office on its initial release. The musical has been ranked eighth in the BBC Radio listener poll of the "Nation's Number One Essential Musicals".
Over the years, the show has become a rite of passage replete with audience participation and props. It's hard to believe that there are still people who have never experienced the show in any form; however, once again when the question is asked, there are people who raised their hands and got marked with the ceremonial lipstick "V" on their foreheads, marking them as Rocky Horror "virgins".
The current production by Austin Theatre Project now playing at Ground Floor Theatre has, in ways, re-imagined the show while still staying true to the core message of: "Don't Dream It, Be It". Because of the physical limitations of the space, director Jim Lindsay has chosen to stage this production using concert production values with a minimal set and projections. At moments, this works very well, especially when he repurposes the female cast of phantoms as doors and the car Brad and Janet are in when they have a flat. Those two moments are particularly inspired. At other times, however, the staging seemed tight and cramped.
Musical Director, David Blackburn has done a great job with the score and the six piece band rocks the show! Choreographer Sara Burke has some good moments but it seemed that all too often the default choreography was 'phantoms circle the leads'. There isn't much of a set, due to the concert staging; however, the iconic lips on the stage floor are a really nice touch. Video Designer Rich Simms has gone a great job with the videos that become the set and manages to successfully set the scenes for the production. Costume Designer Veronica Prior has also done a great job rethinking the iconic designs for these characters, making them fresh.
The criminologist, who also serves as the narrator, has been cast with a woman in the role to stunning effect. Michelle Cheney is an absolute riot in the role and does a superb job. When she is on stage, it's hard to take your eyes off her.
Daniel Cline is absolutely charming as Brad Majors and he possesses a beautiful crystal clear voice. He makes a highlight out of "Once In a While", a song that often gets cut from productions and was cut from the film. He is to be commended for turning that moment into a standout of the production. Becca Seferian does a good job as Janet Weiss, however, I would have liked to seen more of a change in her character as the evening progressed.
Kirk Kelso, as Frank N. Furter, is impressive. He has managed to make the iconic character his own while staying true to the heart of O'Brien's creation.
Laurel Rothamel, as Magenta, gives another standout performance of the evening. She possesses a strong voice that is very much at home with the rock vocals. Robert Slack also has a good strong voice well suited to the vocal demands of Riff Raff. His interpretation of the character; however, seemed to be lacking Riff Raff's sinister underlying quality.
In all, Austin Theatre Project's production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is still a great fun trip to transsexual Transylvania.
THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW by Richard O'Brien
Running time: Two Hours with one intermission
THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, produced by Austin Theatre Project, at Ground Floor Theatre (979 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX 78702) August 14-29, 2015. Show Dates: October 30, 31, November 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 at 7:30 p.m., November 1, 8 at 5:30 p.m.
Ticket Information: Limited Onstage Seating ($40.00), Premium Reserved Seating ($35.00), General Admission ($30.00) Student (with ID) and Senior (55+) Discounts ($25.00), and group rates (10 or more people) $20.00. Tickets may be purchased online at www.austintheatreproject or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2362209. Tickets may also be purchased via telephone at 1-800-838-3006.