BWW Review: Go See THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW at The Stratford Festival...And then Go See it Again!
Saturday night marked the end of Opening Week at the Stratford Festival and there was no better way to wrap up a successful week than with the opening of Donna Feore's thrilling production of Richard O'Brien's THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. Captivating from beginning to end, and guaranteed to feel fresh and new each time it is performed, audiences are bound to have a thrilling time all season long.
Donna Feore has assembled a phenomenal company here. Each and every performer is fully committed to the strange and sexy world that set designer Michael Gianfrancesco costume designer Dana Osborne, and Projection Designer Jamie Nesbitt have created. Sayer Roberts and Jennifer Rider-Shaw are fantastic as Brad and Janet, the buttoned up sweethearts whose car trouble leads us to Frankenstein Place-A castle-slash-spaceship (just go with it) belonging to Frank N. Furter and company. Both actors possess terrific comic timing and fabulous singing voices. Of all the characters in this show, Brad and Janet could be considered to be the less flashy roles, which might sometimes lead them to be overlooked. That said, as the 'heroes' of the show, the production would simply not work without them being played to perfection in the way that they are here. Less flashy also doesn't mean less fun. One of the funniest scenes of the show involves first Janet, and then Brad in bed with Frank (Dan Chameroy).
Mr. Chameroy absolutely owns the stage as Frank N. Furter, the cross-dressing scientist from Transexual, Transylvania who is trying to create the perfect man for himself and who also happens to be responsible for both Brad and Janet's sexual awakenings. He keeps the audience in stitches with his comedic chops and he also shows off his impressive singing voice. The opening night audience went wild during 'Sweet Transvestite'.
Along this "strange journey", we meet a slew of other fabulous characters. Robert Markus is a revelation as the ghoulish handyman, Riff Raff. His voice, much like his character, is otherworldly! Steve Ross is in his usual fine form as the Narrator. His reactions to audience taunts on opening night made the show exponentially more fun. Erica Peck was possibly born to play Magenta/Usherette and we are all just lucky to bear witness. Kimberly-Ann Truong's Columbia is a manic and hilarious highlight as well. I love the moment when she and choreographer Feore subvert audience expectations in Columbia's famous tap sequence. So clever. Trevor Patt makes for a great Eddie, but really shines in the role of Dr. Everett Scott; and then there is George Krissa as Rocky. What a way to make your Stratford debut! He makes his presence known with the 'Sword of Damacles' number...And perhaps the outfit also helps make his presence known. It is, after all, quite the (lack of) outfit. His Rocky is immediately loveable, and the audience is quickly rooting for him.
I would be remiss not to mention the six ensemble members playing the Phantoms in this production: Eric Abel, Gabriel Antonacci, Colton Curtis, Bonnie Jordan, Bethany Kovarik, and Jason Sermonia. They compliment each scene they are in so perfectly because their seemingly elastic bodies and dance moves are as otherworldly as Riff Raff's voice. A friend commented to me that she was so mesmerized by the Phantoms that she plans to go back and watch the show again with a specific focus on them.
Speaking of going back to the show a second (or third) time, I highly recommend it. The audience participation was outstanding on Opening Night and I have on high authority that it had been fantastic during the preview performances as well. Whether or not you choose to engage in the audience callouts, dance to the Time Warp, etc. you are guaranteed to get a slightly different show each time you attend because the audience is always the X-factor. This surely keeps the actors on their toes, which in turn leads to performances that are continuously bringing the audience to its feet.
Go see THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW and then go see it again!
THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW continues in Repertory at the Avon Theatre until October 31st (Halloween!!!)
Photo Credit: Cylla von Tiedemann