For those of you who have been living under a rock or putting up moose jerky with the Doomsday Preppers these last few years, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is that ages-old, ever-young cult musical movie of weirdness starring the legendary Tim Curry as Dr Frank ‘N’ Furter.
Iron Crow Theatre, celebrating its tenth year, is in its fourth year with the live Rocky Horror Show, written in 1973, actually, before the movie, and they have it down to a (warning: pun) exact science. This annual production is also a fundraiser for Moveable Feast, which provides meals to those in need in the Baltimore area. So you can see naughty while being nice.
As for the musical itself, Rocky Horror Show is, by definition, genderbending, tacky, sexually loosey-goosey, with a plot that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. In other words, the perfect show for Charm City.
Iron Crow produces it on a shoestring, but they spend the money where it’s most needed: musicians and voices. There are quite a few really fabulous voices on stage, most notably Benjamin Eisenhour as Riff Raff, Asia-Ligé Arnold as Columbia, Danielle Irene Harrow as Magenta, and Timoth David Copney as Frank ‘N’ Furter.
Tim Curry made the part of Frank ‘N’ Furter a cultural icon in the 1975 movie, and he’s an admittedly tough act to follow. Yet Copney in the role is less a charismatic, omnivorous sexaholic and more a traditional high-flighty drag queen; a pity, since the whole point is that Frank ‘N’ Furter, an alien from another planet, is a draw for both men and women. Again, Curry’s a terrifically tough act to follow, but as the show hinges on this in no small part, it’s an important distinction. In a smaller couple of roles, Connor O’May as Dr Scott/Eddie has gusto and a surprisingly versatile vocal range.
The erstwhile earnest young couple, Janet (Bailey G Walker) and Brad (Brett Klock) are slightly less gifted vocally, but if Janet’s songs are a bit screechy, well, Janet’s kind of a screechy chick anyway. And Klock has such good comic timing as Brad that it frankly doesn’t matter a bit- as if one could even hear him over the continual audience shouts of ‘a**hole!’ anyway. Speaking of, for those unaccustomed to the raucous audience participation traditional to the show, it’s a lot like listening to the radio with static- you’re gonna miss dialogue, but since the plot is nonsensical anyway, I advise not sweating the small stuff. Just shout along- you’re given a goodie bag at the start of the show, with some cheesy dollar store props and those traditional callbacks. You also get a synopsis and a list of songs. It’s like opera, really. Only not.
The Rocky Horror Show closes February 16 2020. DCTS details and tickets
As to visuals, the set by Bruce Kapplin is quite simple: red scaffolding, some chandeliers, a platform and the live, four-piece band at the back. That’s really all that’s needed. Costumes by Danielle Irene Harrow, while sometimes unflattering to actors’ physiques as well as poorly fitted, are nonetheless appropriately slutty and glittery- all in a red/black/silver palette with plenty of corsets, torn stockings and high-high heels. And it should be mentioned that whatever the costume budget was, Harrow’s clearly spent every penny- everyone gets about a bazillion costume changes, the same number of wigs, and the heels alone would put Kinky Boots to shame.
Director/Choreographer Quae Simpson has a good eye for making what could be a somewhat static conga line of well-known songs into a movable feast (okay, this pun was unintended), and there’s a great deal of off-the-sides raunchy comicness going on- lots to see here! But at two and a half hours (with intermission) it’s honestly a long show.
One more mention: as The Narrator, Nicholas Miles, seems the most at ease with the show’s fluidity- while still keeping tabs on timing. That’s a tough call- literally- for, like hecklers at a comedy show, overenthusiastic audience members can derail this (or any) production of Rocky Horror.
So go, bring your significant other(s), make it a rowdy date night this Valentine’s month, and don’t expect Shakespeare. Unless he wore corsets and fishnets, of course.
The Rocky Horror Show . Book, Music & Lyrics by Richard O’Brien . Director & Choreographer: Quae Simpson . Cast: Columbia: Asia-Ligé Arnold, Dr Frank ‘N’Furter: Timoth David Copney, Phantom: Nicholle D’Anna, Riff Raff: Benjamin Eisenhour, Magenta: Danielle Irene Harrow, Brad Majors: Brett Klock, Rocky: Brandon Shaw McKnight, Narrator: Nicholas Miles, Eddie/Dr Scott: Connor O’May, Phantom: Sam Slottow, Janet Weiss: Bailey Walker .Conductor/Keyboard: Jay M Devaughn . Band: Saxophone, Tina James; Guitar, Peter Weitzman; Drums, Lisa Baker . Scenic Designer: Bruce Kapplin . Lighting Designer:Janine Vreatt . Stage Manager: River Hansen . Costume Designer: Danielle Irene Harrow . Produced by Iron Crow Theatre . Reviewed by Jill Kyle-Keith.