The Rocky Horror Show, book, music and lyrics by Richard O’Brien, The Gold Dust Orphans and Club Oberon, 10/14/11-12/2/11, FRIDAY NIGHTS, http://www.cluboberon.com/events/rocky-horror-show. Mature themes, objects, and “blue” paraphernalia.
Reviewed by Becca Kidwell (review contains innuendo)
(Cambridge, MA) “Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still/but he told us where we stand…” With climactic anticipation, I stood in Club Oberon to see The Rocky Horror Show live! Since I saw the movie of Fame (the original, not the remake), I wanted to see The Rocky Horror Show live either as a stage show accompanying the movie or the staged musical. Well…Friday night was the night…
The Gold Dust Orphans and Club Oberon present a strong, quality production with innovative “staging”. The show takes place around the entire club with the majority of the audience on the dance floor and a few tables for those more passive and affluent patrons. For the greater part of the show, most people can see most of the action. However, being taller than 5’9 or so, would likely be a helpful advantage. The only real issue I had with the staging was being pushed around by the stage hands. Yes, platforms needed to be moved around the room, but being pushed around at least three times did not keep me immersed in the world that was created.
The cast is excellent and give the audience what they would expect from the movie–except with more talent (I am not including Tim Curry in that comment). Ryan Landry’s outrageous Frank N Furter ruled the roost while Kayla Foster’s Janet and Gene Dante’s Brad sweetly but haplessly get thrown around the club. Tad McKitterick, Laine Binder, and Darcie Champagne provide memorable performances throughout the show as Riff Raff, Magenta, and Columbia.
My problem with the show was not the commendable production or the talented cast. My problem was with the experience. Let’s face it, people do not go to The Rocky Horror Show for a rousing score, intricate plot, or even a couple of laughs, they go for the communal experience. I am disappointed to say that after seeing this production I am still a “Rocky Horror virgin”. A dancer interacted with me for a few seconds before the show started and Riff Raff touched me at the beginning of the show. But that was it. I will grant an allowance that it was the 8pm performance (the only one of the run) and the press performance (which led to more observers than participants). However, I was lost and a decent amount of the audience seemed to have been too, because many of the things I heard about that should happen didn’t happen. I know that I lacked instruction and wished for more interaction with both the audience and the cast. From what I heard and read, at some point when Brad and Janet are seen the audience is supposed to yell “@$$hole” and “slut”–but no one did and I had no clue where or when it should happen. The dance floor was too packed to do the “time warp”. And no one heckled the narrator.
I understand the difficulty of playing to a crowd that was at least a quarter of observers, but I never felt there was even really any attempt to involve the audience in the action. Even the stuffiest people will capitulate if nudged enough (not by the business-like stage hands). The cast should have been instructed by James P. Byrne to go even further for this audience. For me, I was ready and willing, waiting to be deflowered and…nothing happened. I’m still a “Rocky Horror virgin” who is in search of a production that will take advantage of me.
The audience could be a significant factor in my experience and please feel free to post comments (with substantiation) of your experience if you go. As for me, I’ll continue to lie and wait in perpetual anticipation and listen to the Broadway Revival Cast Album until my time comes.