Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Rocky Horror Show"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Carl A. Rossi


book, lyrics and music by Richard O’Brien
directed by Bill Doscher
choreography by Aixa Kidd
musical direction by John Howrey

Friend of Frank/ Lola … Brittany Wynne
Janet Weiss … Heidi Girard
Brad Majors … Nick Bosse
The Narrator … Joe Jellie
Rif Raf … Brian Liberge
Columbia … Rachel Coit
Magenta … Caitlin Nolan
Dr. Frank N. Furter … Aaron Pitre
Rocky … Joe Wolk
Eddie … Chris Aguiar
Dr. Scott … Brendan O’Halloran
Friend of Frank … Ryan Burns
Friend of Frank … Michael Farrar
Friend of Frank … Elizabeth Loranth
Friend of Frank … Andres Prada
Friend of Frank … Amy Trefry
Friend of Frank … Jillian Wegrocki
Friend of Frank … Lily Winograd

Piano … John Howrey
Drums … Gary Spellissey
Bass … Dirk Hillyer
Reeds … Leo Foley
Guitar … Jim Dalton

The Suffolk University production of Richard O’Brien’s THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW was performed under audience censorship; apparently someone felt today’s students are far more threatening than the show itself with its gender-bending and its message of “Don’t dream it; BE IT”; all bags had to be checked at the door, a policeman was on nanny-patrol at the back of the house and a lengthy list of “Don’ts” were read aloud before the fun commenced. As a result, the students sat like scolded children; nothing was tossed or squirted or waved and there were no cries of “Asshole!” and “Nice!” whenever Brad and Janet’s names were mentioned. I was one of the few people to yell “SAY IT!” at that famous word “antici…..pation”; this was a solemn evening, indeed. At the very least, I was able to study THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, unadorned: it is now over thirty years old but remains a good, solid entertainment with a still-catchy rock ‘n’ roll score --- however, like SHEAR MADNESS, it needs constant feedback to keep it fueled; to clamp down on its audience is akin to unplugging a Christmas tree --- it’s still a tree but it no longer sparkles.

Director Bill Doscher and choreographer Aixa Kidd worked some wonders with a student cast largely composed of non-singers and non-dancers and they kept things fluffy and playful compared to the Footlight Club’s hard, punk version last Halloween. Just when I was getting used to the sophomorics, Aaron Pitre’s Dr. Frank N. Furter burst through the curtains as a cross between Whitney Houston and Mick Jagger, putting the “out” back in Outrageous as he sashayed like a classy, sassy model working the catwalk and backed by a potential rocker’s voice. The only one to match Mr. Pitre in humor and zest was Brendan O’Halloran as his arch-nemesis Dr. Scott, a Nazi cartoon confined to a wheelchair; when this tweedy fellow got caught up in all the cross-dressing, the results were hilarious and oddly erotic. Brittany Wynne’s sullenness during her “Science Fiction Double Feature” hinted at mysterious depths.

Reflecting on the Suffolk production, I would say that the Age of Fosse has turned as hollow as the stock gestures of melodrama over a century ago. How many times have we witnessed performers young or mature, professional or amateur, doing tired bumps and grinds and cautiously fondling each other, all in the name of HOT? The Suffolk production was no exception; its actors have grown up in the age of sexually transmitted diseases and can only put their faith in a time when sex was good, clean and plentiful fun. With a growing conservatism sweeping over the land, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW may in time be recast as a dour morality tale --- those who dare to BE IT will only get zapped in the end. That policeman in the back of the Suffolk house could be just the tip of the iceberg.

"The Rocky Horror Show" (23 - 25 February)
C. Walsh Theatre, Suffolk University, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 305-6307

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide