Last night I drove up to Wilmington, NC to see the last showing of Rocky Horror at Thalian Hall. It was a true example of the above statement as you could find both sides: those doing it right, and those who shouldn’t have done it at ALL.
First of all, the actual show was amazing. The cast was wonderful, and the set, music, and choreography were spot on. It was fresh and funny, the updated costumes were perfect, and the director made some key decisions that made it absolutely wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the following:
- The decision to have the Phantoms (ensemble) mingling with the audience before the show. It made it a party atmosphere and got me shivering with antici-
pation. That was such a smart choice, and sadly the most action I’ve seen in a while.
- The usage of the ensemble to make Brad & Janet’s “car” including “headlights” on 2 girls’ bums.
- Riff Raff’s (Leo Grinberg) hysterical faces behind Frank’s (Justin Smith) back regarding Rocky.
- The interaction with the audience, in particular from Riff Raff, Frank, and Brad (Sam Robison)
The entire cast was amazing, I had seen Sam Robison as Mark in Rent back in 2009 (I saw that with my then neighbor George Domby whom actually played Dr. Scott in this production) and he was very memorable as I found myself nearly 4 years later going “Hey, isn’t that the guy who played Mark when we saw Rent?” Rocky Horror also had the same music director, Chiaki Ito and actress Amy Tipton whom played Maureen rejoined Sam as Janet.
She was AMAZING, he was AMAZING. I can’t even say enough. Amy was perfectly innocent but with that sensual undercurrent that was teased out, and the voice of a fallen angel. Sam was adorkrable as Brad, nerdy as heck, especially in physical mannerisms, but able to pull off enough sex appeal to make the audience see what Janet saw in him.
Also amazing were Paul Teal and Justin Smith as Rocky and Dr. Frank-N-Furter respectively. Justin towered over the cast in those heels, and absolutely brought it, to the point where at the wrap party I thought to myself “Who is this random dude in the sweater???” According to the program, Paul played Noah in The Notebook Musical (which I auditioned for once upon a time!) so as soon as I got home I sent Bethany Joy Lenz (who wrote the libretto for The Notebook Musical and I knew sort of kind of vaguely when we both lived in Wilmington during One Tree Hill’s reign) a tweet telling her how absolutely fantastic he was as Rocky! Which he was. Usually Rocky is kind of a lunk, a little dense even for having just been born. Paul’s Rocky was smart, savvy, and sensitive! I felt much, much more for the character with his interpretation than I did for even the movie one!
Now that I’ve waxed poetic about the amazing talent (amazing enough I was too awed to say a word to any of them at the wrap party.) Although before I move on to those who shouldn’t have I must mention that this fabulous display made me regret moving from Wilmington. These were my people! Well, they could have been if I’d not moved.
Now, those who shouldn’t have. Sorry kids, gonna call you out by name here: Pineapple Shaped Lamps Comedy Troupe. They provided the shadow-casting and audience participation. I heard they were hired to. That’s sad. Maybe it was different with larger audience, but this go round was awful. At one point, I believe it was during “I’m Going Home” they got going on a black tar heroin gag that almost had me yelling back “GET NEW MATERIAL.” So here is my advice to them:
- Timing. Work on it. Ya’ll were so damn out of sync talking over one another. Maybe stick with the classic call backs until you got that down. In addition to timing of call backs work on the length of the call back. This was the black tar heroin thing again. Attempting to spit all of that out in the tiny bit of space made it run together “aboutblacktarheroin” until it was almost indistinguishable. It would have been far more beneficial to find something shorter to put in that spot, ie. “I’m a plushie.” or “about bath salts.”
- New stuff: While some stuff is classic (asshole!), and some new stuff was funny (that Miley Cyrus jab in particular comes to mind) some of it was a bad idea (Obama slam???? IN A THEATRE? REALLY?! Even I know better.) maybe update some stuff but be careful. Don’t sacrifice the art of the call back just for the sake of the pop culture joke.
- I did dig the costumes though!
All in all it was an enjoyable night and I could go on and on but I’m too fucking tired for that shit. MWAH! Love to the entire cast!