Stage 62 has done it again, another performance with impeccable professionalism and a cast with boundless talent. The Rocky Horror Show (TRHS) is not for the conservative or prudish. This is a show rife with sexual prowess and decadent human behaviors, all in the name of fun!
Having grown up as a Rocky Horror Picture Show groupie I promised myself I would not sit through the performance constantly comparing the play to the film, but in all honesty, the two are nearly identical. Except for one added song in the live show, “Once In a While”, performed by Brad, the film thoroughly mimics the live show. If you are familiar with the movie, or perhaps have seen TRHS performed someplace else, you will have a great time. If you have yet to experience Rocky, in any form please read ahead, the show is not for everyone.
The musical begins with Kristen Welch, as Magenta, on a dark stage. She shines a flashlight directly on her face, emphasizing her dark red lips as her velvety voice hits all the right notes in the opening number, “Science Fiction Double Feature”. The bartender/ narrator, Stage 62 newbie, Nathan Hough whose smooth but smoky voice delivers the dialogue and complements his charming hipster styled suit complete with plaid bowtie. Without missing a beat he is quick to retort the call lines that are shouted by the audience and maintain a cool and collected demeanor.
The story begins with Brad Majors, played by senior Point Park University musical theater major Nick Black, and his newly engaged girlfriend Janet Weiss, played by cute-as-a-button Marissa Buchheit driving in a rain storm and the car breaks down. Fortunately, they see a castle in the distance and decide to ask who ever lives there if they can borrow a phone to call for help. Upon arriving at the castle, Brad and Janet meet Riff- Raff the man servant, played by vast vocalist Keaton Jadwin, Riff’s sister the maid Magenta and admirer Columbia, followed by rock n roller Eddie, played by Joyce Hinnebusch, an avid Pittsburgh community theater performer and then the stars of the show, Dr. Frank N Furter, a self-proclaimed scientist, transvestite alien from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy Transylvania, and his man made creation, the buff and tan muscle man, Rocky and Dr. Scott. During the musical the cast wears very little clothing, flaunt their bodies, and simulate various sex acts with one another as Dr. Frank N Furter attempts to convert Brad, Janet and his newly unveiled boy- toy Rocky to his depraved way of living.
This is an incredibly ludicrous story, a parody of old B Sci- Fi and horror films. It’s difficult to explain the energy is that keeps TRHS audience cheering and begging for more, but I can attest to the catchy musical numbers and the inappropriate, over sexualized characters dancing and singing “The Time Warp” as the audience jumps to their feet and follow along. There is a lot of shouting “Asshole” or “Slut” when Brad and Janet are on stage, a remnant from audience participation at the infamous midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. All of this unconventional behavior could overwhelm someone or make them uncomfortable if they show up unaware of the nature of TRHS. For people who have participated before the audience is open to much of the same behaviors that occur in the movie theater.
This cast is energetic and the entire show is like a party. It’s obvious the cast is having a blast on stage and this spirit spills over into the entire theater. Buchheit’s silvery voice has a hint of innocence and Black’s small stature is deceiving, I expected a delicate voice and was excited to hear him produce an accomplished and talented ability. Roberts plays an astounding Frank n Furter. He struts across the stage, stomps his feet and crawls on all fours in thigh highs, garters and a g-string with an appearance of sheer effortlessness. His long legs are sexy but are no match to Adam Mazza’s pectorals and quadriceps. In form fitting, short denim shorts and a pretty smile, Mazza was built for the part of Rocky and on stage, he owns it, ‘just 7 hours old’, he is gullible and easily persuaded, and the audience cheers him on. Larissa Jantonio as Columbia is meek at first, following the lead of Dr. Frank N Furter, Magenta and Riff Raff, but as the show progresses her character gains strength and so does Jantonio’s voice. During the floor show she nails the notes and seems comfortable performing exotic dancing, shaking her petite frame while rubbing a feather boa around her body. Eric Mathews role as Dr. Scott is perfection. He does not falter a moment with his accent and his skills moving around stage in a wheelchair. Lastly, I must mention the Phantoms, TRHS ensemble. Their harmonizing during “Hot Patootie” and the licentious orgy scene toward the end of the musical were definitely highlights of the performance.
Expect moments that will shock you, make you laugh and sometimes cause you to shift uncomfortably in your seat. Ultimately a free-for-all style show where anything can happen. Prepare to be wowed by a cast with vocal and acting aptitudes beyond the scope of TRHS script and remember, it’s supposed to be fun, ‘so give yourself over to absolute pleasure’ and check out Stage 62’s final two performances tonight at 8pm and midnight.
Special thanks to Stage 62 for complimentary press tickets. For more information, check out their website here.