An audacious attack on the sexually repressed with an emphasis on in-your-face interaction and over-the top musicality are the hallmarks of the current production of The Rocky Horror Show, now playing at The Studio Theatre’s 2ndStage. A veritable phantasmagoria of provocative fetish wear, suggestive body movements and interactive audience involvement, Director Keith Alan Baker and co-Director Alan Paul have offered up an intriguing, intense, and fast-paced interpretation of the now infamous cult favorite. This interpretation also stresses an emphasis on the jolting and frenetically-paced music by Richard O’Brien (who also wrote the Book and the Lyrics).
From the moment you are escorted to your seat by an usher or usherette in leather fetish gear (Superb Costume Design by Collin Ranney) and the lights envelop the evocative opening song “Science Fiction Double Feature,” the audience is swept up into the unique, kinky and perverse theatrical vision that is presented here. This ensemble works feverishly to draw the audience into the bizarre and campy proceedings aided immeasurably by the intensity and sheer vocal power of the cast and the marvelous six-piece band lead by Conductor and Music Director George Fulginiti-Shakar. Most decidedly, this production’s main assets are the very confident and bracing sense of musicianship combined with the Directorial decision to stress the kinky and sexual aspects of the show to such a large degree. Indeed, these sexual aspects are what make this show the cult fave it is but, sometimes, the sensibility of ironic detachment and the lighter satirical tone of the show that the show needs – get a bit lost in the hyped-up and adrenaline-soaked loudness of the proceedings. Sarah G. Marshall (in the dual roles of The Narrator and Dr. Scott) most successfully captures the tone of the text with the right air of jaded, mock whimsy. Following closely on her heels in the acting department is Tim Rogan (Brad) as the callow, naive young man, and William Hayes (Rocky) as the perfect physical specimen.
Choreographer Michael J. Bobbitt cloaks the show with marvelous ensemble numbers with the well-known song “The Time Warp” a particular standout. Bobbitt also utilized his deft choreographic touch by having the scantily-clad members of the cast linger on the sidelines of the theater in provocative poses and attitudes during the main action onstage. His use of the cast to engage willing members of the audience in dance adds to the festive, interactive tone of the production. Against the intricate Set Design of Giorgos Tsappas (replete with spiral staircase and elevated platform) and the pulpy,appropriate Video Design of Erik Trester (consisting of projection panels of old horror flicks and B-movies), the movement and choreographic pacing on the stage is non-stop and visually compelling.
In the lead role of the mad Transylvanian, Mitchell Jarvis (Frank N. Furter) packs a wallop with his vocal chops from one number to the next. Jarvis knocks the roof off with his raucous and randy renditions of “Sweet Transvestite” and “I Can Make You a Man.” Jarvis slithers around the stage with the swagger and confidence the part calls for. Jessica Thorne (Janet) is a singing powerhouse and only needs a little more of the wide-eyed innocent in her earlier scenes. Matthew DeLorenzo (Columbia), Matthew McGee (Riff Raff), Kayla Dixon (Magenta), and Matthew G. Myers (Eddie) all add unique slants on what could be very stereotyped characters in lesser hands.
If you want to experience a Rocky Horror Show that is direct, sexually audacious, and musically supercharged – Studio 2ndStage has just the show for you!
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 45 minutes, with one intermission.
The Rocky Horror Show plays through August 4, 2013 at The Studio Theatre’s 2ndStage in the Metheny Theatre – 1501 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets call (202) 332-3300, or purchase them online.