Theatre Review: The Rocky Horror Show

The Rocky Horror Show! Need I say more?!? Okay, okay, sure, I guess I do. The Rocky Horror Show is the play that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is based on. This year it's in the unlikely venue of Canstage, providing a bit of a shock for some subscribers I'm sure, but not to old hands who have seen the movie a gazzilion times.

I think this production will please folks who enjoy the movie, and may please those who don't, because seeing it live does bring a whole new dimension to the experience. And for all the Rocky Horror 'virgins', well, live is a great way to be introduced!

My show partner this week was Gregg, "Science and drama high school teacher by day, and performer by night". His overall impression of the show was that it was "a faithful portrayal of the original stage play, while still acknowledging all the devoted fans of the movie." Pointing out "I think at the end of the show we had all forgotten about Tim Curry."

Gregg had two favourite parts in this production. The first was actually before the show even started... "Phantoms" in usher uniforms roamed the aisles accosting audience members, gyrating, trusting, touching, feeling, humping, and generally making people giggle uncomfortably. Gregg liked the way it set up the show, I did too, it was a big break in theatre conventions, and this show certainly breaks a whole lot of theatre conventions.

What was the second favourite part? It was Frank 'N' Furter's final song where he reveals emotions, not just skin, where he tries to explain a bit about his life. I have to agree, it was a powerhouse performance, damn, that Adam Brazier (Frank 'n' Furter) can sing! In fact, the whole cast was really great, a treat to watch.

Gregg agreed that the cast was fantastic, but said that he was a bit disappointed that it wasn't bigger. He said that he pictured the time warp as a huge number, so even if it was only for that one scene, he wanted to see more folks on the stage. Personally I was okay with the number of folks on stage during that piece, I still couldn't see them all at once, as much as I wanted to, and for me I think more people would have just watered down the interest. I'm always fascinated by this, by how one thing can be something someone connects to and another person will connect to the opposite.

Since this is a show laden with expectations I thought I'd also ask what surprised Gregg the most. His answer was "The audience", which is mine too, but we had different reasons. Gregg was surprised at the diversity in the audience, he pointed out that he was sitting next to a woman in her 60s who, as we found out in intermission, had never seen the movie or the play before and was there as part of a subscription series. A couple people down from her was a young woman in a red leather bustier who was obviously a veteran to the show. Both seemed to be enjoying the evening a great deal. For me the surprise was actually how little audience participation there was. A few stray shout backs could be heard, but not the chorus I expected, especially given Canstage's encouragement of audience participation.

I walked out of the production a little bit giddy because there was so much energy in the room, certainly a good way to start my week!


Rocky Horror Show runs until April 21 and is in the Bluma Appel Theatre (St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street E.)

Showtimes are Monday-Saturday 8:00 p.m., Wednesday matinee 1:30 p.m., Saturday matinee 2:00 p.m.

Tickets range from $20-$95, rush seats are available one hour before any performance for half the regular ticket price. PWYC on Mondays (tickets available in person beginning at 10:00am on the day of the performance.) Although, it was a pretty packed house, and I went on a Monday, so you might want to call ahead to find out if there are in fact any tickets available.

Photo of Adam Brazier by Bruce Monk

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