Regional Reviews: Albuquerque
The Rocky Horror Show
The Rocky Horror Show is a wonderful mess. It's part horror movie, part science fiction movie from the early '60s. It's part Kit Kat Klub, part Ziggy Stardust. Part camp, part maudlin. It's outrageous, but in an old fashioned way. The plot makes no sense. The deeper the story goes, the more it falls apart. But who cares, it's Rocky.
"Glee" took it on last season. Rocky was suddenly cool with my 15-year-old daughter. So we rented the movie. I was surprised by how well it held up. The live performance holds up even better, and the UNM Department of Theatre and Dance production breathes new life into an old transvestite.
Rocky first came to life in early-'70s London, in the newly born gender-bending Glam world of David Bowie, Queen and T. Rex. The director of UNM's production, Gil Lazier, first saw Rocky during those post-swinging years in London. At the time, there was some shock value, but never shocking enough to lose its good-natured friendliness. There was always a wink-wink from Rocky. He wanted to shock, but he didn't want to threaten.
I find it amusing that Albuquerque is presenting The Rocky Horror Show and Cabaret at the same time. Two of the high water marks of gay camp are on stage at a time when significant progress is being made to recognize the rights of those in the LGBT community. Is this nostalgia for the Jim Crow days of gay history? Perhaps Rocky and Cabaret are the new My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music, timeless musicals that reassure.
The UNM production is quite lush. It opens with a dozen colorful Phantoms wandering through the audience looking for the missing Eddie. We get the feeling right away that things aren't likely to go well with Eddie. Then the show really gets going on stage as Janet Weiss (Lucy Marshall) and Brad Majors (Corey Meehan) burst out of a friend's wedding.
Brad proposes to Janet and they head off into the stormy night, soon to break down and end up at the Frank N. Furter house. Marshall and Meehan are both excellent, especially as they stretch their personalities under Frank N. Furter's splashy influence. The central dash of The Rocky Horror Show is the taunting transvestite from outer space, Frank N. Furter. Sanchez clearly relishes the role, brining out the fun in this warped master of ceremonies.
While the cast is wonderful throughout, extra credit goes to Sarah Wyman and her team. The bright primary colors are visual candy. The choreography by Vladimir Conde Reche is delightful all through the show. The live music provided by a six-piece band led by Paul Roth is also wonderful.
Gil Lazier has put together a delightful production. The cast is clearly excited about the show and that energy flows right to the audience. Lazier has directed more than 50 productions all over the United States and abroad. The experience shows in this confident and showy production. He certainly knows how to entertain.
The Rocky Horror Show, book, music and lyrics by Richard O'Brien and directed by Gil Lazier, is playing at Rodey Theatre at the UNM Performing Arts Center, through November 20. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm. General admission is $20, seniors and faculty $15, staff and students $10. Tickets online at unmtickets.com or 925-5858.