Newly engaged Brad and Janet have a vehicle breakdown in the middle of nowhere. They stop at the home of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter to seek assistance and find that the good doctor has created a new. . .playmate. This is The Rocky Horror Show with book, music, and lyrics by Richard O’Brien and is currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it is an homage to cheesy sci-fi films of the 1950s, but with a lot of raunchiness thrown in. There’s risqué behavior, performers in various states of undress, and a bit of fondling. So for those uncomfortable with that, consider yourselves forewarned.
I was pretty much a newbie to this show. I kind of, sort of watched most of the film version once upon a time, but wasn’t paying that close of attention to it. After watching the stage version, I can honestly say this show is one of the best in the history of the Playhouse. It is a tremendous amount of fun with catchy songs (brilliantly executed by Jennifer Novak Haar and her band), an intentionally hokey story, some spritely and original choreography, and a great opportunity for audience participation as they are encouraged to bring noisemakers, rubber gloves, toast, flashlights, and even dress up in costume.
Kaitlyn McClincy directs her first full production at the Playhouse with this endeavor. This is not an easy show to direct due to the colossal amounts of energy required and the suggestive behavior actors need to be led through. As my friend succinctly stated, “If you ain’t committed, you’re screwed”. I assure you McClincy and her cast are most thoroughly committed and McClincy’s direction is immaculate and dead on target.
The staging is incredible with Matthew Hamel creating an old-fashioned movie theater for this show to take place. McClincy makes phenomenal use of the small Howard Drew as she utilizes the entire theatre from stage to seating area to balcony for her actors to tell this story. She hits all of the hot points of the show to milk the funny and even drilled the rare sentimental moments of the show. McClincy also has boldly and deftly led her cast to sterling performances from top to bottom.
As I previously stated, energy is crucial to this show and the ensemble hits the ground running and never lets up in a supercharged night of singing and dancing. Some standout performances came from Jason DeLong who gives an innocent performance as Rocky, Frank ‘N’ Furter’s new creation and shows an impressive set of pipes in “The Sword of Damocles”; Erika Hall-Sieff does well as the sultry domestic, Magenta, and also gets to let her own rich alto shine in “Science Fiction”; Olivia Howard has one of the night’s funniest moments as Columbia with a series of gyrations and movements after having her brain zapped by Frank; and Kevin Buswell is eerily mysterious as the enigmatic butler Riff Raff.
Benn Sieff comes out roaring in his Playhouse debut as Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter. Sieff has incredible instincts and nails the oversexed, over the top mad scientist to the floor. Sieff has wonderful timing, knowing how to precisely punch a funny line and has a flair for physical comedy, best demonstrated by his bedroom romps with Brad and Janet and he does it all while wearing lingerie and fishnets and gliding around the stage in lifts that add a good six inches to his already towering presence.
Sieff also has a smooth baritone with which he nails comedy in the doctor’s introduction number “Sweet Transvestite” or downright sad and melancholy in one of the night’s few serious moments in “I’m Going Home”.
Cale Albracht is delightfully dorky as Brad. Albracht’s Brad is a real square and he adds a wonderful stilted and stiff delivery to his lines to emulate the poor actors of cheapo sci-fi films. Albracht is also a nimble dancer and has a great tenor used to superior effect in “Damn it, Janet” and “Once in a While”.
Charlotte Hedican is sweet and a bit repressed as Janet. Hedican skillfully handles her hokey dialogue with perfectly sincere camp delivery. She is also on the mark with the flip from the virginal Janet to the shark smelling blood version after being deflowered by Frank and wants more in “Touch A Touch Me”, one of the top numbers of the evening.
Tim Burkhart and John Gibilisco supply some fantastic sounds from the zap of laser guns to the sounds of storms and the electronic whine of viewscreens. Amanda Fehlner’s costumes were on target with the tuxedoes of the Transylvanians, the lingerie and fishnets of Frank (and eventually other characters), Rocky’s form fitting golden tights, and the goody-goody look of Janet’s pink dress and Brad’s dark suit. Courtney Cairncross provides a dazzling bit of choreography especially with the energetic “Time Warp” and the ensemble dancing in “Touch A Touch Me”.
There seemed to be some microphone difficulties at a few points and some of the actors needed to project a bit more strongly. That being said, I also want to salute the cast for great poise under pressure by not allowing themselves to get thrown off course when a group of theatregoers began to get a bit disruptive halfway through the second act.
It’s cheesy. It’s hokey. It’s just plain silly. But, heavens, this show is fantastic fun and definitely a treat for the Halloween season over at the Playhouse. Grab your tickets while you can because I foresee many a sellout for this one.
The Rocky Horror Show plays at the Omaha Community Playhouse through Nov 10. Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Special midnight showings will take place on Oct 19, Oct 26, and Nov 2 with no Sunday show on the following day. Ticket prices start at $42 for adults and $25 for students at can be obtained at the OCP box office, by phone at 402-553-0800, or online at www.omahaplayhouse.com. Due to mature content, this show is not suitable for children. The Omaha Playhouse is located at 6915 Cass Street in Omaha, NE.
Photo provided by Colin Conces Photography