The Rocky Horror Show: My First Time Warp

Tad Mckittrick, Gene Dante, Ryan Landry, Kayla Foster and Laine Binder, from left. Photo by Michael von Redlich

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,  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.


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2 thoughts on “The Rocky Horror Show: My First Time Warp

  1. That’s an interesting criticism. Maybe valid. But the live show is NOT the movie. You are basing your criteria on totally different forms and versions of the show. It would not be safe for people in the audience to throw things at the actors especially water and rice and such. The actors and performers are also trying to speak, sing, dance, and move in REAL time, the movie continues on despite what is going on in the theater and sometimes it’s impossible to hear the movie. Yes they want the audience to be involved but it cannot be “directed” into the show… it is a live experience and audience members maybe paying closer attention to the performances in front if them rather than trying to join in. That phenomenon is more reserved for a midnight viewing. It still does exist with stage version but not at the same level. You should judge the two mediums with a different set of expectations.

  2. “It still does exist with stage version but not at the same level.”–NOTHING HAPPENED, NO INTERACTION other than the cast running around the club. I was not expecting people to throw things and YES, I do think that would be dangerous. And yes, theatre is different from movies–theatre is MORE about connection than movies. Theatre is meant to be a communal activity. Should I not have any expectation of a fun, party atmosphere? I know that people interacted (verbally) at the Broadway Revival. By the measure of just “enjoying the performance,” I go back to my previous comment of ROCKY HORROR is not a show that people go to for a quality production. I could have sat home and watched the dvd and had the same experience that I had on Friday. The yelling should be acceptable and the audience is on the dance floor; is it unreasonable to think that the audience might be coaxed into dancing? Enthusiasm can be encouraged by instructing the actors to interact with the audience more. Some examples are THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, THE REDUCED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY, some performances of HAIR, GREASE, and any and all improvisational performances. If I just want to go see a quality theatre production, I can name more than ten places I could have gone on Friday night. If the standard for going to the stage production of the ROCKY HORROR SHOW is to see a riveting performance, I’ll go out to karaoke with my friends next time and wait for the actors to be in some other production.

    And as I said in the review this is my personal experience and others may have different experiences. I did state that the actors were great and the staging was very good.