"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
‘The Rocky Horror Show’
Anything goes at the Weekend Theater’s production of the science-fiction, rock ’n’ roll comedy “The Rocky Horror Show” — well, almost anything.
In keeping with the spirit of the midnight screenings of the 1975 cult film based on the Richard O’Brien musical, patrons are invited to dress up like their favorite characters (while only three people did at Sunday’s matinee), dance in the aisles, and talk back to the actors as long as they keep it short, funny and promise not to throw anything at the stage — save for the items in the $5 “audience participation bags,” which contain, among other things, confetti and condoms.
The play opens with a dozen or so dazzling “phantoms,” or members of the chorus, marching down the center aisle in black robes belting out “Science Fiction Double Feature,” which, delivered with straight-faced playfulness, grabs the audience’s attention and holds it for the duration of the two-hour performance.
The cast of 14 crowds the small stage on which the four-piece band also performs. There isn’t room for props; instead director/choreographer John C. Thompson relies on the actors’ loud costumes, gaudy makeup, and spirited dancing for visual stimulation. For the popular song “Time Warp,” actors make use of the aisle and theater floor for dance space and with lyrics like “jump to the left, step to the right, hands on your hips, bring your knees in tight” everyone is on their feet doing it right along with them.
For those Rocky Horror virgins who’ve never “Time Warp”-ed, the confusing plot tells the story of a newly engaged, clean-cut couple Brad Majors (Carl Carter) and Janet Weiss (Shaylea Harding), who come across the castle of Transylvanian transvestite Dr. Frank N. Furter (John Frank Tyndall III) after their car has a blowout one dark and stormy night. At this hunting lodge for weirdos, straight-laced Brad and Janet are introduced to Frank N. Furter’s motley crew, including right-hand man Riff Raff (Jason M. Willey), who looks like a thin, blonde Wolverine, and coquette Columbia (Susan Andrews), a Betsey Johnson look-alike. The couple is stripped of their neat clothes and forced to take part in the erotic misadventures that ensue after Frank N. Furter, who resembles Marilyn Manson and dresses like Dita von Teese, brings to life his latest creation: a perfectly tanned, blonde boy toy named Rocky (John Andrew Ellis), who wears nothing but well-endowed gold panties the entire show.
When Rocky goes missing in the castle, Frank N. Furter sneaks into Janet’s bedroom, and later Brad’s, taking advantage of them by convincing them that “there’s no crime giving yourself over to pleasure.” (When delivering the line to Brad, someone in the audience gets big laughs for yelling: “There is in Arkansas.”)
Halfway through Act 2, after discovering Brad’s indiscretion, Janet seduces Rocky in “Touch-A-Touch-A-Me,” a song in which uptight Janet loosens up. While a crowd favorite, the song is lacking in vocal delivery by Harding, who plays prim and proper Janet perfectly, but can’t quite reach the high notes called for in the character’s solos.
The singing and dancing make up for the weak plot, and the show ends on a good note, even if you’re not sure what really happens.
There’s still time to give yourself over to pleasure as the Weekend Theater has added three shows at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, July 6-8. Call 374-3761 to reserve tickets.
Congratulations Tara, beautifully written!