On Thursday, Oct. 28th, the Carolina Theatre Group, LLC’s powerhouse presentation of The Rocky Horror Show roared into Raleigh — “Sexy as Hell,” as advertised, oh yeah — with a wild and wooly cast of deliciously depraved characters stalking Scenic Asylum’s macabre multilevel set that surpasses Dr. Frankenstein’s castle in creepiness. A hard-rocking onstage band, with fire in their fingertips, rattled the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium rafters.
But this crowd-pleasing production, presented by Raleigh’s Broadway Series South, in conjunction with City Stage of Wilmington, NC, suffered from sound problems that worsened as the delightfully decadent Dr. Frank-N-Furter (played with panache by H. Dean Jones) initiated his uninvited guests, the clueless squeaky-clean squares Brad Majors and his fiancee Janet Weiss (Zack Simcoe and Morganna Bridgers), deeper and deeper into the polymorphous perversity that has transformed Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle into a den of iniquity that puts Sodom and Gomorrah to shame.
As knee-slapping scene follows scene, the tsunami of sound generated by musical director Chiaki Ito (piano), Rob Hood (synthesizers), David Easton (guitar), Luke Perkins (bass), and Rob Murphey (drums) increasingly drowns out dialogue and lyrics, which may not matter to Rocky Horror Show fanatics, who punctuate the proceedings with callbacks and turn every song into a singalong. But those of us who do not know every syllable of the script and score by heart got a little lost on Thursday night.
Despite the persistent problems with the show’s sound design and/or sound board operation, and simulated sex and four-letter words that would earn the musical an R rating, The Rocky Horror Show is a winner, thanks to sassy musical staging director Justin Smith, choreographer Kevin Green, and musical director Chiaki Ito and the eye-catching peek-a-boo Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome costumes designed by Briton Campbell.
Dean Jones’ outrageous antics as Dr. Frank-N-Furter — especially his silhouetted serial seduction of the Brad and Janet — are alone worth the price of admission. Zack Simcoe and Morganna Bridgers play Brad and Janet as hopelessly naive virgins, who easily succumb to the blandishments of bisexual mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
Also making big Technicolor splashes are Jeremiah Williams as the castle’s A Clockwork Orange-sinister handyman Riff Raff; Anthony David Lawson as the show’s seedy, sinister Narrator; and Tom Marriott as Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s golden-Speedo-wearing Frankenstein creation, the blond and muscular and hot-to-trot Rocky; Caitlin Becka as Riff Raff’s sister, the mischievous maid Magenta; and Jes Dugger as Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s fierce fright-wigged groupie Columbia. And Cindy Colucci brings great gusto to her triple roles as the Usherette as a seedy cinema (“Science Fiction/Double Feature”), Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s zombiefied former biker-lover Eddie (“Hot Patootie — Bless My Soul”), and Dr. Everett Scott, Brad and Janet’s wheelchair-bound former science tutor, with his mysterious German accent and suspicious Hitler-style moustache.
When Riff Raff, Magenta, and Columbia and the phantasmagoric Phantoms from the planet Transsexual, in the Transylvania galaxy, from perform the show’s big dance number “Time Warp” with great gusto on Thursday night, the crowd went wild, standing and dancing herky-jerky in front of their seats like there was no tomorrow.
SECOND OPINION: Oct. 27th Durham, NC Independent Weekly preview by Zack Smith: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/what-keeps-the-rocky-horror-picture-show-flame-burning-for-more-than-two-decades-in-raleigh/Content?oid=1753817 (NOTE: This preview is mostly about the weekly midnight Friday screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Rialto Theatre, in Raleigh, NC); Pam Saulsby’s Oct. 27th Raleigh, NC WRAL-TV interview with Dean Jones: http://www.wral.com/entertainment/video/8519984/#/vid8519984; Oct. 12th Wilmington, NC Encore Online review by Carly Yansak: http://www.encorepub.com/read_articles.php?r=read&cat_id=44§ion_id=3; and Oct. 12th Wilmington, NC Star-News review by John Staton: http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20101012/ARTICLES/101019899/1050?p=1&tc=pg. (To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Oct. 27th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/10/broadway-series-south-brings-the-rocky-horror-show-to-raleigh-memorial-auditorium-on-oct-28-31/.)
Broadway Series South, in conjunction with City Stage of Wilmington, NC, will present presents Richard O’Brien’s THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW at 8 p.m. Oct. 29, 8 and 11 p.m. Oct. 30, and 8 p.m. Oct. 31 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
BOX OFFICE: Progress Energy Center Box Office: 919/831-6060 (information only). Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000, 919/834-4000, or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/804241.
Broadway Series South: http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/.
City Stage: http://www.citystageatlevel5.com/.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 8 p.m. Oct. 31st performance.
The Musical: http://www.rockymusic.org/tags/Rocky+Horror+Show.php (official web page), http://www.rockyshows.net/ (RockyShows.net), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rocky_Horror_Show (Wikipedia), http://www.rockyhorror.co.uk/ (2010 U.K. Tour), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=7582 (Internet Broadway Database).
The Film: http://www.rockyhorror.com/ (official fan site) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073629/ (Internet Movie Database).
Richard O’Brien: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_O’Brien (Wikipedia), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=8321 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0639782/ (Internet Movie Database).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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