BWW Review: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW at San Jose Stage Company
A time warp opens to a provocative dimension at The Stage in San Jose, with The Rocky Horror Show. A Tony Award nominee for best musical this production, directed by Allison F. Rich with choreography by Tracey Freeman-Shaw, is as decadently campy today in San Jose as it was when it opened in London four decades ago. For cult followers of this musical spoof, "Rocky Horror" is filled with juicy morsels delicious enough to whet ones uninhibited appetite. This slice of pop culture is still succulently scintillating and fresh today as it celebrates the individuality and uniqueness in all of us.
The strange journey that unfolds finds young, and newly engaged, Brad and Janet in the car...on a dark and stormy night. Car troubles leave them out in the rain as they make for shelter in a nearby mysterious castle. Seeking help, they are invited to spend the night by an outlandish host, Dr. Frank N. Furter, a transvestite scientist. Brad and Janet meet a castle full of fierce characters as they lose their innocence and are awakened to the adventures of unbridled sexuality. Through gyrating (and well choreographed) dance to rocked out songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest meaty creation - a most muscular man named "Rocky." But, will this unfettered decadence prove to be too much for this world? Will it be squashed by those who think it has gone too far?
So, no, the music by Richard O'Brien is definitely not a Rogers & Hammerstein-type of musical. It is raucous fun to watch and hear this cast in these memorable roles. Accompanied by a pitch perfect and timely rockin' band this show is a triumph of provocative pleasure, from start to finish. The band includes Nick Perez (Keyboard/Conductor), Francisco Hernandez (Guitar), Jeremy Pollett (Bass), Lane Sanders (Drums) and Anthony Pickard (Saxophone) "Damnit Janet" they sound good!
Keith Pinto, as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, is more sensual and less crazed than other productions I've seen. His portrayal, while in keeping with the original, has more layered nuances that give it a fresh approach. His castle of "Phantoms" include Tracey Freeman-Shaw, Monica Moe, and Brian Conway who deliver the goods - singing and dancing... wherever they pop up.
There are featured moments from Jill E.Miller (as Columbia), Matthew Kropschot (as Rocky), and Will Springhorn, Jr (as Eddie/Dr. Scott) that shine throughout the production, giving it variety, punch, and beefcake.
Allison F Rich (as Usherette/Magenta) plays such distinctly different characters so well, it seems like two different actors playing each role. Sean Okuniewicz (as Riff Raff) lays down some killer vocals with a character that Boris Karloff would admire. Edward Hightower narrates and does so with panache and repartee that draws the audience in full tilt. His personality in the role is a particular highlight.
Parker Harris, as Brad, and Ashely Garlick, as Janet, make the straight-laced-kids-gone-wild characters as sweet as honey and as bad as a Sunday morning hangover. They push the envelope just enough to keep it edgy without pushing it over the cliff.
This production is ripe for audience participation and the rowdy opening night crowd seemed to enjoy their pick. The cast is unafraid to put their best sexy pump forward as the frolicking abounds. I was impressed with how tight and well timed the show was, this early in the run, even with all the jabs from the audience. This well-focused ensemble effort could not get much better than it already is and garners a "must see" status.
In addition to Ms. Rich and Ms. Shaw, the creative team includes Michael Cavanaugh (Production Stage Manager), Robert Pickering (Set Designer), Ashley Garlick* (Costume Designer), Michael Palumbo + (Lighting Designer), Steve Shoenbeck (Sound Designer), Caitlin Elizabeth (Props Coordinator) and Yvonne Vo (Props Coordinator).
THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW runs about two hours, including one intermission. Libations are served before and at intermission.
San Jose Stage Company production runs this show through November 3rd, 2019 at 490 South 1st Street, San Jose, 95113
Tickets and subscriptions may be purchased through the Box Office at (408) 283-7142 or online at www.thestage.org
Photos courtesy of San Jose Stage Company