Unquiet Theatre Company presents the cult classic musical The Rocky Horror Show! with Book, Music, and Lyrics by Richard O’Brien. Katy Chmura directs this campy production, with Music Direction by Matthew Scarborough.
When newly-engaged Brad (Josh Bartosch) and Janet (Cambria Ungaro) find themselves stranded from a flat tire in a rainstorm, they seek refuge at a mysterious, macabre castle. What follows is a plot so unapologetically strange that I’m not sure if it should even be called a “plot”…which in itself is a decisive, proud, and completely intentional key element of the story. Brad and Janet are introduced to a bizarre collection of characters united in the home of Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter (Timothy Macdonald), a transvestite scientist who has discovered the “secret to life.” The unwitting couple become the guests of honor in a series of absurd events, including power struggles, seduction, murder…and lots of corsets. This show is not for the faint-of heart! Think you have the nerve? Then read on.
The set itself is minimal, but the space is utilized well (Edgar Zayas as “Rocky” uses the structure of the room itself to his advantage in a memorable scene), and Lighting Designer Justin Janke creates a creepy atmosphere with shadowy spots. Also, one must also never underestimate the influence of a well-placed fog machine! However, the set is of little significance, because any Rocky Horror fan would most anticipate the make-up and costumes, and Michelle Macdonald does not disappoint with her designs. Take the cringe-inducing fashion crazes of the 1970s (sequins! boas! glitter!) and pair them with some shocking pieces (barely-there bustiers and even a dog collar or two, for starters) and you’ve got one crazy ensemble…now just make them sing and dance.
Musical Director Matthew Scarborough was an absolute delight and my favorite part of the whole show, even though he never sets a foot onstage. Scarborough provides live music and witty commentary throughout, and is the most interactive of the bunch.
The sound quality left much to be desired, an unfortunate technical flaw which I expect comes from the space itself. The music and sound effects almost entirely drown out the singing voices, most noticeably during the song “Double Feature,” of which I couldn’t hear a word. However, I did catch some singing, and the strongest voice of the bunch belongs to Cambria Ungaro as Janet, with the sultry number “Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me.”
The performances were pretty good for the most part. James Maxted and Toby Nelson are great as sinister siblings Riff-Raff and Magenta. Maxted delivers a credibly creepy performance as Riff-Raff while Nelson shines as the scheming, unnerving Magenta. Timothy Macdonald is hypnotically commanding as Dr. Frank, and kept his cool through a number of wardrobe malfunctions (those corsets can be tricky!).
Aaron Verchot-Ware steals the whole thing as the feisty criminologist, whose diva-like behavior gained the loudest laughs of the evening. He refuses to have his spotlight stolen, and hilariously pushes any encroaching dancer out of his way during the famed number “Time Warp,” nicely choreographed by Caroline Simpson. The one thing that really came through in this show was the enthusiasm and intimacy that the ensemble obviously shared– they were a solid group of friends having a great time, and it showed. It was also infectious.
Scandalous, darkly funny, and downright bewildering, Unquiet Theatre Company’s production of The Rocky Horror Show is a good way to stir up the spirit of Halloween.
Running Time: Approximately two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.