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Chicago by John Olson

The Rocky Horror Show
Underscore Theatre Company

Also see John's reviews of Bus Stop and Follies

As a Halloween treat, the nearly three-year-old Underscore Theatre Company—who mostly produces original musicals—has put together a fun production of The Rocky Horror Show. Their venue is the funky basement club called the Underground Lounge—a very sixties Greenwich Village feeling sort of place that they've turned into a vintage movie palace, complete with four usherettes, a movie screen, and mock red velvet curtain. Four leggy usherettes do some audience participation bits before launching into "Science Fiction/Double Feature" to open the Richard O'Brien 1970s musical with the '60s sensibility.

The cast has a ton of energy, and the tone is set perfectly with the help of D.J. Reed's glitzy glam costumes, though director Alex Higgin-Houser and company don't entirely nail the show's intended campiness. Anthony D'Amato's Dr. Frank N. Furter actually is more scary than funny, and Jonas Davidow lacks a clear take on Riff Raff. Joe Zordan and Julie Schroll, though, have a perfectly well-scrubbed look and are suitably naïve as the hapless Brad and Janet who happen upon Dr. Furter's castle that rainy night. Schroll does an especially nice job belting out "Touch-a, Touch-a." Along with Sam Button-Harrison, who does a great "Hot Patootie" as Eddie, she's one of the two vocal standouts in the show. There's a great-sounding five-piece band led by music director David Kornfeld, and the ensemble vocals are strong as well.

This may not be the best production with which to introduce a virgin to Rocky Horror—the cast's difficulty in finding exactly the right tone could make one wonder what the appeal is. Still, how many Rocky virgins are left in the world anyway? The point of Rocky Horror is its familiarity and this production makes a good return visit to the piece for the faithful.

The Rocky Horror Show will run through October 30, 2011, at the Underground Lounge, 952 W. Newport Ave., Chicago. For tickets, visit www.ChicagoRocky.com.

See the schedule of theatre productions in the Chicago area


-- John Olson



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