Almost as ‘Rocky,’ But Not Quite

Loeb Ex live stage presentation of movie classic pleases first-time viewers

Location: Leob Experimental Theatre
Dates: Oct. 27- Nov. 5
Director: John T. Drake ’06
Producer: Nina M. Catalano ’08

The long-running production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is still showing weekly down the street at Loews Harvard Square, yet “The Rocky Horror Show” opened this weekend at the Loeb Ex. Thus, some may ask, why do the Time Warp again?

A glance over Saturday’s plain-clothed audience confirmed that there was no “again” about it for many people in attendance. This production will mostly appeal to those who like their gleeful pan-sexuality without a side of good-natured sexual harassment and prefer to get home before 3 a.m.

For that crowd, a recap of the plot is in order: Brad (Barry A. Shafrin ’09) and Janet (Jennifer H. Rugani ’07), a fresh-faced, virginal couple straight from 1950s social-hygiene videos, stumble onto a castle filled with cross-dressing, scantily clad, lecherous residents. They are presided over by Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania,” who has recently created—in “Frankenstein” style—Rocky (Gordon T. Kraft-Todd ’07), the perfect man, for himself. The rest involves scientific experiments, aliens, and a floor show—and makes absolutely no sense. Oh, and this all occurs against a narration by a criminologist sitting in an armchair in the corner.

The story (or lack thereof) just serves as a platform for the songs, which are frequent and inspired, and the silly sexiness of the whole affair. It is hard not to be drawn into a play in which nearly all the cast members will wear the same uniform of fishnets, red heels, and corsets by the end. Producer Nina M. Catalano ’08, who is also a Crimson editor, seems to have paid close attention to details and the appropriate costume design by Casey M. Lurtz ’07 goes a long way in capturing the enchantment of the movie for the stage.

This production is an excellent introduction to the culture of Rocky Horror, and John T. Drake ’06 deserves credit for directing a presentation that preserves the extravagant charm of the film. The live show hits all the right notes of cheeky camp, boasting tone-appropriate choreography and performances, especially by Charlie I. Miller ’08, who strikes the perfect note of slightly-weary debauchery as Frank-N-Furter, and David J. Andersson ’09 who slithers and hisses around as Riff Raff, the put-upon servant.

This presentation may not quite authentically capture the magic for someone who has watched and participated in the movie event several times and is accustomed to audience renditions of Time Warp in the aisles and shouts of obscenities. In that case, this production is much like a cover version of a familiar song. To be more than a tired mimic of a classic, the campus production could have incorporated more unique elements. One distinctive element that was successfully integrated was a live (and of course, cross-dressed) band, which gave the songs a great punch.

In general, the “Picture” version of the show features a cast that imitates the movie gesture for gesture. However, the live version certainly does have freer reign to be creative with the material, and it takes advantage of this freedom. I, personally, did not feel like I was watching something completely new, but the live visual stimulation felt different enough that I didn’t mind not screaming out the lines (Though, more accurately, I may have whispered them). The cast looked their parts and seemed to thrive on the sexy silliness of it all. In fact, this cast presented my favorite line from the play, which isn’t in the movie: “Silly bitch.” Trust me, it’s hilarious in context.

“The Rocky Horror Show” is about, in the words of one of its song “creature[s] of the night,” but this production isn’t necessarily for those creatures. Make no mistake, this presentation is still full of over-the-top sexuality, more fishnets and feather boas than you can shake a crowbar at, and the pelvic thrust that drives audiences “insa-a-a-a-ane.” But nobody is going to be doing said pelvic thrust in an audience member’s face here. Still, while some might find the lack of audience participation frustrating, in general, this is a production that both “virgin” and veteran alike can enjoy.


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