Newly engaged Brad and Janet are in for quite a night when they stumble upon the home of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, a mad scientist with a yen for cross dressing and sexual deviancy. It’s The Rocky Horror Show and its running at The Slowdown under the auspices of Rave On Productions.
Rave On Productions ends its freshman season of theatrical productions with a show that I currently consider to be the best of the season. Richard O’Brien’s cult rock musical requires a very special group of performers who have to be completely dedicated to the over the top, raunchy ode to cheesy, schlocky sci-fi and be able to belt out a tune. This show has that and far, far more.
It brings back some of the cast and crew from the award-winning Omaha Playhouse production of 2019, but blows that run right out of the water (a highly difficult task) with a nuclear powered version done the way it was meant to be with full audience participation with prop bags and a screen to help prompt newbies when to utilize said props and provide the dialogue to answer the performers.
Kaitlyn McClincy returns to direct the production, but has teamed up with Kimberly Faith Hickman and their teamwork creates something truly formidable. Their staging utilizes the entire space of The Slowdown. Their coaching pulls some truly phenomenal performances out of their thespians and the background bits they have the actors doing when they’re not the focus of the scene really fleshes out the tale and makes one forget they were working without a set.
Every single actor should be proud of the work they did in this show as there isn’t a flat tire among them. Props to Eric Perlstein and Britney Thompson for quite literally being the props and set of the show. Evelyn Hill slays as the snarky Narrator of the story. Ryan McGuigan absolutely kills it in a cameo as Dr. Scott with that amazing tenor rocking out in “Eddie’s Teddy”. Billy McGuigan is spot on as Frank ‘N’ Furter’s new playmate, Rocky, whose own dazzling tenor mesmerized the audience with “The Sword of Damocles”. Erika Hall-Sieff and Kevin Buswell bring real creepiness and an understated malevolence to their roles as Magenta and Riff Raff plus we got to enjoy Hall-Sieff’s rich alto serenade us with “Science Fiction/Double Feature” plus a long coda in “Planet Schmanet Janet” while Buswell’s high tenor brought the audience to their feet to do the “Time Warp” again. Courtney Cairncross’ energy is unmeasurable with her take on Columbia and truly shines after she gets her brain zapped with a prolonged series of gyrations and snorts.
Benn Sieff returns to his Fonda-McGuire winning role of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter and seems to be enjoying himself even more if that was even possible. His complete dedication to the role makes for a gripping watch and his mammoth presence (physical and energy wise) make certain all eyes are glued to him. You could feel him feeding off the crowd and fueling his fantastic performance and his ballistic baritone thrilled the audience with “Sweet Transvestite” and “Charles Atlas Song/I Can Make You a Man”. And he actually almost brought me to tears with his sense of defeat and sadness in “I’m Going Home”.
Jesse White turns in another spectacular performance with his turn as Brad Majors. White is truly nerdy and a genuine prick (trust me, watch his behavior and attitude towards Janet). He also has an incredible sense of improv as he was able to work in some musical responses to audience commentary. But his almost sonic vocals sold me on his work as he belted out “Dammit Janet” and actually made me feel a little sorry for him with his hangdog melancholy in “Once in a While”.
Nina Washington is repression personified with her take on Janet Weiss. Ostensibly, she starts off as the stereotypical damsel in distress, but she blossoms in an awful hurry after she gets deflowered and develops an instant addiction to sex as she pursues Rocky like a shark in “Toucha Toucha Toucha, Touch Me” and has real wonderment in her alto as she ponders her strange adventures in “Super Heroes”.
Amanda Fehlner’s costumes were absolutely superb especially with the fishnets and lingerie for Frank ‘N’ Furter and others, Magenta’s maid’s outfit, the ill-fitting tuxedo of Riff Raff, and Rocky’s golden shorty shorts. Kimberly Faith Hickman’s choreography was so much fun especially with “Time Warp” and a rather exuberant dance from Magenta to close out “Planet Schmanet Janet”. Charlie Ames’ lighting always suited the feel of the scenes with depressing blues of more melancholic numbers and a fiery red for more charged scenes. Matthew McGuigan does superlative work with his musical direction as he seemed to take influences from different versions of the show and infused it with something from his own soul and he and his band (Ryan McGuigan, Max Meyer, Stan Harper, Jay Hanson, Darren Pettit, and Larell Ware) knocked this score clear out of the ballpark.
You still have three chances to catch this show and I advise you to take advantage while you have the chance for this show is selling out fast. It’s a megaton of fun.
The Rocky Horror Show runs as the Slowdown through October 31. Remaining shows are midnight on Oct 30 and 31 and a 7:30pm show on Oct 31. Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased at https://www.theomahaseries.com/rockyhorror. Due to mature themes and content, this show is not suitable for children. The Slowdown is located at 729 N 14th St in Omaha, NE.
Photo created by Carly Frolio