By James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek)
Revisions by Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Rocky Horror Show
Oct. 31 – Nov. 1, 2013
Kaleidoscope Theatre lets it all hang out as sexual promiscuity mixes with fetishes, classic Hollywood horror and a little alien fun. With Rocky Horror Show — a benefit performance in support of continuing this groups effort to bring the Arts to the youths of Victoria — lines are blurred between hero and villain. And perhaps we are all just people wanting to be understood.
The Rocky Horror original stage show saw success at London’s Royal Court Theatre before going on to greater success in the United States, thanks in part to producer Lou Adler. With UK show director Jim Sharman and original star Tim Curry as Frank N’ Furter (later replaced by Paul Jabara) transferred to the US, the rest of the cast was filled with Hollywood and Broadway performers. Pre-Bat Out of Hell Meat Loaf would play the roles of both Eddie and Dr. Scott.
The show opened March 21, 1974, playing eight shows a week at West Hollywood’s Roxy Theatre on Sunset Strip. As the show continued the cast and crew began to notice theater audiences returning again and again. Even celebrities Elvis Presley, Raquel Welch, and The Who’s drummer Keith Moon were filling seats. Musician, singer and songwriter Carole King would become one of the musicals’ most loyal of fans. King went so far as to dress up as Magenta for a performance.
In the McPherson Playhouse version of Rocky Horror, director Roderick Glanville successfully uses minimalist theatre techniques, sometimes replacing props with actors (using actors and flashlights to represent an automobile) to bring home the point that, if done correctly, a good cast is all you really need.
Many of us know the story of what happened to the timid Brad Majors (Pat Rundell) and the repressed Janet Weiss (Sarah Anne Murphy) on the night where a mysterious tire blow-out sets them on a course to revelation. On a lonely road on a rainy night the only salvation seems to be from a lone Gothic manor. And what they discover is quite literally a time warp. They encounter a corset clad Dr. Frank N’ Further (Griffen Lea) and his Transylvanian minions. With their weird methods of sexual expression, it’s quite possible they are not from the local area code or at least anywhere near Denton. Long-time Rocky Horror fans know what happens next: Shock Treatment continues this road trip through 50’s sensibilities even though the lead characters, Brad and Janet, seem to never acknowledge what happened to them in Rocky Horror by the time they settle in this town.
Mount Doug High alumni Griffen Lea is perfect for the role of Frank. Minus high heels he still manages to tower over most of the cast. Lea trying to find his character in the first act, managed to recover for the last half of the show. Lea’s slender frame and dominating (or is that dominatrix) personality kept the punters pleased. If ever they were to make a Canadian touring version of the Rocky Horror Show, Lea would be one of my choices.
Apart from Lea, the cast was peppered with strong vocals and strong personalities. Pat Rundell is my choice for meek, virginal Brad. I watched his sexual odyssey unfold with the help of Frank N’ Furter, he changed from a caterpillar to a butterfly. But throughout the production Rundell still emitted a humble glow which only a seasoned actor could accomplish. Sarah Anne Murphy’s curvy form of Janet shared equal spotlight with Rundell as she belted out musical numbers much to the audience’s delight.
One could describe Riff Raff (Kelly Hudson) as the female version of Meat Loaf. Hudson’s vocals had such power and longevity that she received ovations on more than one occasion. Magenta (Tich Wilson) was an absolute scream. She played her role as kooky and as demented as her film counterpart, Patricia Quinn. Lorne Carruth was a hoot as Dr. Scott. And Kevin Murray as the Criminologist played his character with such seediness that one needed a shower after he had been on stage. Any hollers he received were well deserved and any praise for his acting ability would also be warranted.
And what of Rocky (Levi Schneider), Frank N’ Furter’s well endowed (both upstairs and downstairs) boy toy? Schenider filled the part nicely. His blonde hair, tattooed body and stage make-up developed into what would’ve happened had David Bowie moved to California and taken up long days at a muscle beach and surfing. It doesn’t take Dr. Scott long to figure out that Levi Schneider was pure eye candy for the ladies and Frank N’ Furters in the audience. But Schneider was just one flavour in a production box of chocolates. And like any good chocolate we know that something so naughty for you also could taste so sweet.
4 Stars of 5
Note: Kaleidoscope Theatre’s next production will be The Neverending Story, based on the German novel by Michael Ende, adapted to the stage by David S. Craig and directed by Roderick Glanville. The Neverending Story will run December 12 – 18, 2013 at the University of Victoria‘s University Centre Farquhar Auditorium.
Top main photo by Colby Jay.