BWW Review: THE EXPERIMENT Wows In Insanely Clever Rocky Horror/Hedwig Mash-Up

BWW Review: THE EXPERIMENT Wows In Insanely Clever Rocky Horror/Hedwig Mash-Up

THE EXPERIMENT - A ROCKIN' FRANK + WIGHEAD INSANE CABARET/produced by Creating Arts Studios/written by Todd Martens/directed by Shannon Sukovaty & Lee Marshall/musical direction by Dan Sugi/choreographed by Shannon Sukovaty with duet choreography by Julia Lisa/CAC Studios/thru October 31, 2015

What do you get when you combine two already proven, successful musicals- The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hedwig and the Angry Inch? THE EXPERIMENT - A ROCKIN' FRANK + WIGHEAD INSANE CABARET, the current extremely entertaining mash-up from the brilliantly creative minds of Creating Arts Studios. Cleverly written by Todd Martens and assuredly co-directed by Shannon Sukovaty and Lee Marshall, THE EXPERIMENT takes place in the Mitchell Sanatorium headed by Dr. Bradley (Dan Sugi) and his efficient, but lovesick Nurse Janice (Cassandra White). With only the aid of candystriper Camillia (Elizabeth DelloRusso) , this small staff tends to the medical needs of their test subjects, who, luckily for the audience, break out into song and dancing much more often than into their psychotic fits. CAC's novel conceit has the sweet transvestite "Dr. Franky" as one of the many inhabitants of Mitchell Sanatorium. As part of his 'therapy,' Franky has access to equipment necessary in making his creature, a blond Adonis for his beck and call. In THE EXPERIMENT, Franky decides to make his Adonis with woman parts, but botches the operation BWW Review: THE EXPERIMENT Wows In Insanely Clever Rocky Horror/Hedwig Mash-Upleaving his creature named Wighead left with an angry inch. Get it??? Oh, and THE EXPERIMENT must be taking place now in 2015 as a not-quite-veiled reference to a Cosby drugging receives its intended response from the very attentive audience.

Your interactive emersion into the insane asylum begins at the front door when you're given name tags (to distinguish you from the patients) and escorted through the roaming loonies in the tiny nightclub space (aka Mitchell Sanatorium).

Pre-show activities include Monte Montgomery on upright piano and guitar, with Claire Montgomery on vocals and ukulele. Hadiyyah Smith as patient Itsock simply simmers in her vocal rendition of Nina Simone's "Strange Fruit," a trio with her two sock puppets. Amidst the scurrying wardees, Emily Decker as Trixie, a cigarette girl hands out tiny cups of pills (candy actually) to the non-medicated audience. Decker most charmingly begins the actual show with "Science Fiction/Double Feature."

Sugi well plays his uptight Dr. Brad with the tunnel-vision of his experiment's ultimate success in finding the control for all the insanity. Sugi's gorgeous vocals takes flight in " Once In a While." White's comedic chops gets lots of effective use vamping for Dr. Brad's attention while her melodic voice get showcased in "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me." White BWW Review: THE EXPERIMENT Wows In Insanely Clever Rocky Horror/Hedwig Mash-Upreminds of Carol Burnett's Mrs. Wiggins character, only way more sexual and sexy than Mrs. Wiggins hilarious but non-sexual efforts could ever be. DelloRusso shines in her duet with Sugi in his original penned "Shock Treatment." DelloRusso also manages to command focus with her enthusiastic comedic antics, and her sharp dance- stepping even in the middle of the highly populated inmates numbers (smartly choreographed by co-director/co-costumer Sukovaty). Maybe it's the way she bats her fluorescent pink eye lashes. Wink! Wink!

The inmates, crazy as they are, all seem to have distinct madnesses of their own. Where do we start? How about with Franky, unabashedly and deliciously, totally inhabited by co-director/co-costumer/wigmaster Marshall. A big man with a really big voice confidently maneuvering in really tall heels. His dulcet tones boom in all his incredible numbers "Sweet Transvestite," "Don't Dream It," "I'm Going Home," "I Can Make You a Man." Marshall's evenly matched in the vocals department by Max Lichtig as Franky's creation Wighead in their duet "Wig in a Box." Lichtig's very masculine, purposely awkward dance moves accentuate Wighead's gender predicament. Lichtig seizes his opportunity to display his soaring vocals in his first performance after donning his long blond wig, his questioning and vulnerable "Sword of Damocles."

BWW Review: THE EXPERIMENT Wows In Insanely Clever Rocky Horror/Hedwig Mash-UpAdam Lau and Giana Bommarito as always attached brother and sister Raffy and Maggy have the wonderful opportunity to lead everyone into the infectious "Time Warp" audience participation. They later harmonize most gloriously in "Origins of Love" with able three-part assist from Lichtig.

Rocio Lopez rocks out in "Hot Patootie" as the androgynous Tom Nosh with her Elvis pompadour combing swagger.

Kenni Kinsey and Milton Herdoiza get their controlled chaos on and dutifully display their strong vocal chops as Betty and Ralph in "Sugar Daddy."

Others providing sturdy back-up vocals and movement include Nandini Bapat, Kendall Haynie Vittrup and co-director Sukovaty.

The two-hour THE EXPERIMENT exhilaratingly exhausting with all the clapping and all the laughing and the dance-alongs you're urged to do. To borrow a line from another hit show - "Oh, what a night!" (That's from Jersey Boys, if you didn't know.)

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