Director Glen Walford promised a “cosmic event” and judging by the reaction to opening night of Rocky Horror Show at the Mondavi Center, she has succeeded handsomely.
The fun begins even before entering Jackson Hall. The audience was an interesting mix of very normal looking people of all ages (I even saw more than a couple of grandmotherly types who looked to be in their 70s), along with those who came prepared to be participants in the show, dressed in various types of costumes, from wigs to bustiers to capes and spike heel boots. They were obviously ready to do the Time Warp again.
In the lobby one can purchase a bag of items, such as rice, which allow the patron to more fully participate in the action.
As the lights go down, the entire hall becomes a gigantic movie screen for a film of clips from various sci fi movies, while Jennifer Nelson (a “cinema groupie”) sings “Science Fiction,” accompanied by the rest of the cast and the “phantoms,” positioned all over the hall. You know that this isn’t going to be your run of the mill show.
For the few who may not be familiar with the cult classic movie, the plot itself is probably incidental the spectacle, but basically it’s the story of two clean cut kids, Brad (James Egisto Ratti) and Janet (Carter Mills) who have a flat tire on a deserted road in a rainstorm and end up going to the convenient nearby creepy mansion where they find an assortment of weirdos and their host, the transvestite Frank N Furter (Martin McKellan), who occasionally looks like he’s been shopping at Cher’s latest garage sale..
Once the kids are inside the mansion, the plot begins to disintegrate until by Act 2 there’s hardly any plot at all, but who cares? Everyone on stage and in the audience was having too good a time to think of such mundane things as “plot.”
Walford has a strong cast, every one of them. There were a few technical glitches on opening night, but the cast took them in stride and found ways around them. Ratti and Mills are perfect as Brad and Janet, he a rather nerdy type and she blonde, perky and innocent. The costumes by Elizabeth Galindo accentuated their wholesomeness and Brad’s pink polkadot tie, matching Janet’s dress was a nice touch.
McKellan is simply delicious. Campy, over the top, and perfectly at home in his silver platform shoes and fishnet stockings. One could not find better.
As Riff Raff, the butler, R. Andrew Hess was wonderfully weird with a powerful voice and a fabulous second act costume.
Dyan McBride as the housekeeper Magenta, and Natasha Tavakoli as the maid Columbia each gave fun performances. McBride has great facial expressions and both are very funny together.
Robert Bruce Broadhurst IV is Frank’s creation, Rocky. Broadhurst is that all-around guy who can act, sing, do pushups and play the piano. He also has the build of an athlete, as befits the role.
As the hapless delivery boy, Eddie, David Sawyer bursts on the stage, literally, and does a rousing rendition of “Hot Patootie.”
Holding it all together is the Narrator, Travis Dukelow who handled audience heckling (de rigueur for Rocky Horror) with aplomb.
The six member orchestra, under the baton of music director Peter Nowlen, were all in costume and guitarist David Rehman was particularly fetching in his long silver wig, as he leaped on stage for one of the numbers.
Rocky Horror is crazy, it’s sensual, it’s just downright fun. The audience of over 500, many of whom rose to sing and dance to “Time Warp” seemed to be having a glorious time.
There are only three more performances. Tonight’s performance, which is nearly sold out, will begin at 11 p.m, Saturday at 8 p.m. and the 2 p.m. closing performance on Sunday.