Oct. 30--It's always fun to go to a production of "The Rocky Horror Show," the play that inspired the 1975 cult classic movie "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," and see what a director does with the wildly campy material.
The musical pays homage to science fiction and B horror movies of the late 1940s through 1970s and also draws from the 1970s glam rock scene and the accompanying sexual experimentation.
In Bucks County Playhouse production, Tony Award-nominee Hunter Foster has definitely put his own stamp on the musical, which follows a thin plot about young couple Brad and Janet, who stumble upon the crazy castle of Dr. Frank N Furter, a sweet transvestite from another planet who has created a muscle man named Rocky Horror, ala Frankestein.
Everything you might want in "Rocky Horror" is in the show -- wild characters in corsets and heels, body parts being tossed around, the familiar rock and roll inspired songs and lots of sparkly glitter. And it wouldn't be "Rocky Horror" without props to toss and lines to yell back at the stage.
But Foster has given the show a subtle updating, with references to more recent horror flicks, including Leatherface from "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," Chucky from "Child's Play" and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from "Ghostbusters." He also gives us a Frank who is more androgynous than usually seen -- think a smart-aleck "Ziggy Stardust;" a Brad who is more nerd and possibly a closeted gay than simply uptight and clueless, and a Janet who is more sexually frustrated than innocent ing nue.
Into this pot, throw a studly Rocky Horror and you have a stew that simmers just below the surface.
The enthusiastic cast moves the show along at a fast-paced clip of two hours without an intermission.
As Frank, Kevin Cahoon immediately commands the stage, sometimes with just a curl of his lip. Although at times, Frank seems almost like a petulant child, he is able to draw in the audience with his swan song "I'm Going Home."
Broadway's Lauren Molina runs with the role of Janet and makes her almost poignant, not to mention she has amazing pipes on songs like "Over At the Frankenstein Place" and "Touch-a, Touch Me."
As Brad, Nick Cearley seems to be almost repulsed by Janet's attentions. He has a very good voice and is especially affecting in "Damn it, Janet" and "Once in a While," on which he also demonstrates prowess on the ukulele.
As Rocky, Nick Adams has an incredible physique and is obviously very strong. At one point he hoists himself into the air horizontally on a pole and also does impressive back flips, like he's part of a kinky Cirque du Soleil show. And he can sing, as he demonstrates ably in "Sword of Damocles."
Steve Rosen does impressive triple duty as a Hitler-esque Dr. Scott; the half frozen Eddie and the Narrator, for which he keeps his ever present pipe clenched in his teeth.
There is a slight nod to sadomasochism with some of the phantoms walking around wearing ball gags and bondage hoods and at one point Eddie gives Columbia, played by Jennifer Cody, a couple slaps.
Cody fleshes out the caricature of a groupie and makes her one of the most sympathetic characters.
Alyssa DiPalma and Jeremy Kushnier give Magenta and Riff Raff edgy but more familiar personas.
The minimal stage set goes easily from a church to a castle to a laboratory and then creatively transforms into a stage for the "Floor Show."
Ultimately, the show is simply lots of wild, crazy, fun. There are a number of shout-outs to Bucks County, including jokes about the Delaware River and "Old" Hope, as opposed to New Hope.
-- "The Rocky Horror Show," through Nov. 2, Bucks County Playhouse, 70 S. Main St., New Hope. Tickets: $35; $25, students; $49 premium Time Warp seats, which include orchestra seating, a goody bag and invitation to dance "The Time Warp" on stage. Molina and Cearley perform at 11 p.m. Nov. 1 with their group The Skivvies, who perform in their underwear. Tickets for the Skivvies show: $30; $20, students. Goody bags available for purchase in the lobby. 215-862-2121, http://www.bcpheater.org.
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