The Rocky Horror Show

rocky horrorWhen you go to see The Rocky Horror Show you know going in, you are not expecting anything akin to Shakespeare or Wicked. You are going for pure R-rated, campy, fun where the audience participation adds to the hilarity and enjoyment of the show. Split Stage’s production of this live action musical did not disappoint.

The theatre company celebrated the opening of its 5th season Friday night at The Lamp Theatre in Irwin. Split Stage is not one to shy away from edgy material. I have in the past enjoyed their productions of Avenue Q and Assassins so it was not surprising that they would take on this, the edgiest of them all.

If you have never experienced the live musical before and have only ever seen it on TV or a shadow cast production, buckle up, you are in for one hell of a ride because you have not experienced anything yet.

Being a Rocky veteran I thoroughly enjoyed watching the “Rocky Virgins” get their “V” and being initiated as part of the pre-show fun. I do wish those who chose not to comply with the initiation request would have been spanked as a punishment, but those who did really got the crowd warmed up.

Part of enjoying the show is watching the audiences’ responses to it. A Rocky Horror audience can be as funny or funnier and just as entertaining as what is happening on stage. And honestly, that is what you are hoping for as it takes the experience to a whole new level.

Many virgins initially bristled to the foul but funny callbacks that start as soon as the show began but they soon loosened up and realized it was okay to laugh at the bawdy humor taking place on stage and off.

The lighting was on point and the set minimalistic with the band at its center. While I wasn’t’ sure how I would feel about the sparse, industrial looking set when I saw it, I was pleasantly surprised by the end how it really allowed you to focus more on the action on and off the stage.  And Director Brady D. Patsy made great work of the entire space The Lamp Theatre has to offer.

The band under the direction of Nick Stamatakis rocked the house and completely met my expectation, including the “sick” kazoo solo. However the volume on a few of the numbers did seem to overpower the vocalists, mainly in the ensemble numbers. This could be either from their location being on stage or due to the small size of the ensemble.

Former American Idol contestant and Norwin High School graduate Aubrey Burchell made her theatrical debut as the Usherette. The truly talented vocalist opened and closed the show with her powerful voice singing “Science Fiction Double Feature,” that received well deserved cheers from the crowd. I would have liked for her to have also been part of the ensemble as her voice would have added greatly to it.

Katherine Harkins and Mickey Orange were the perfect Janet Weiss and Brad Majors. Acting, vocally, both were everything you want those characters to be and never broke under the onslaught of callbacks that came from the audience.

Speaking of not breaking, Matthew Russak and Riley Tate as Riff Raff and Magenta did a great job of keeping their somber demeanor throughout the hilarity. I was extremely impressed with the vocals of Russak which an unfortunate microphone issue slightly hampered, but I’m sure will be fixed for future performances.

Adam Fladd took on the role of Frank n’Furter. I’ve seen some great Frank n’Furters in the past so with this role I may be a little hard to please. Fladd seemed to drift out of character from time to time from what may have been opening night jitters, adjusting to the slipping costume and navigating in those high boots. We expect his performance will only get better as the shows go on. The potential is there. Vocally however, Fladd more than made up for any acting shortcomings.  His powerful vocals shone through in every number. Although he didn’t make me feel for Frank like I normally do at the end, he definitely made me cheer, as did rest of the audience, at the end of “I’m Going Home.”

Other performances of note, Hank Fodor, I enjoyed as both Eddie and Dr. Scott and Ian Olson did a good job acting and vocally as Rocky. He definitely looked the part and his interaction with Harkins was quite entertaining.

Overall Split Stage’s Rocky Horror is a fun interactive experience I recommend to all non-prudes. Grab a group of friends, but leave your, children,  large water guns and frankfurters at home, and head out to The Lamp Theatre in Irwin. The show runs through June 23 with an 8 p.m. and special midnight performance on June 23. Tickets and show times can be found here.

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