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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


The Rocky Horror Show

Also see John's review of Zero Hour

The Slow Burn Theatre sets the bar high in their latest production of Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show. This well done production of the musical, upon which the 1975 classic cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show is based, is sure to titillate timid theatergoers and thrill "Rocky" aficionados alike.

The Rocky Horror Show premiered in June of 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in London, England. Later that year, it played at the Classic Cinema, and continued in various locations, before closing after 2,960 performances on September 13, 1980. In March of 1974, the show had its first U.S. preview at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles where it ran for nine months to rave reviews. On March 10, 1975, The Rocky Horror Show opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre. The run ended on April 5, 1975 after 3 previews and 45 performances.

The film version, relased on August 14, 1975, became a popular showing at certain theatres such as the Waverly Theater (now called the IFC Center). Sometime during 1976 the audience participation phenomenon that transformed this film to cult status was born. Audience members dressed up as the characters and brought plot-related props with them into the theatre. They did things like light candles, squirt squirt-guns, shield themselves with newspapers from imaginary rain, and throw rice, toast and toilet paper during specific points in the film. Midnight showings featured people lip-synching to the soundtrack before the film began. This soon evolved into audience members saying lines out loud along with the characters during the movie, and yelling colorful commentary or counterpoint dialogue at the characters as well. The famed "Time Warp" song, and its very specific choreography, has become immediately identifiable with both the film and the musical.

This ultra-campy classic unfolds on a dark and stormy night, as an uptight, clean-cut young couple named Brad and Janet seek refuge at a nearby castle after their car breaks down. Little do they know that the castle is occupied by a scientist named Dr. Frank 'N' Furter. He is about to unveil his latest creation—the perfect man. Brad and Janet have no idea they have entered into the bizarre world of visitors from a planet called Transsexual Transylvania. Will Brad and Janet ever find their way home? And if they do, will they ever be the same?

Don't be surprised if audience members arrive dressed up in costume, and/or talk back to the actors on stage. You can join in the fun if you wish, as the Slow Burn Theatre sells "Rocky Survival Kits" which contain appropriate items to help you with the audience participation you may crave. Just be sure to leave the children at home, due the adult content of the show both on and off the stage. Those of you who have never seen either the film or the stage version of this show (known as "Rocky Virgins") can be sure this stage version of The Rocky Horror Show is a theatrical experience you will not want to miss.

There are many things right with this production. The sound is crystal clear throughout. The live four-piece band, led by music director Phil Hinton, keeps the score under control without letting the guitar and percussion run over the singers. The sound levels between the singers and the band are also perfectly balanced. Not a line is missed. Patrick Fitzwater provides very clean direction, and more choreography than one would ever expect from this show. He makes full use of the dancing of three male and three female "Phantoms" in as many numbers as possible, adding a great deal to the show. From the beginning, with the musical introduction by the Usherette, he highlights the aspects of the show that make it like the B-horror movie it is meant to resemble.

Larry Buzzeo is wonderful as Dr. Frank 'N' Furter. Those who have seen the film will note how strongly his performance is influenced by that of Tim Curry. While there are times when they are nearly identical, there are also enough times when we see just Buzzeo. He manages to somehow maintain a small degree of masculinity even in the makeup, bustier and heels. Alexa Cappiello (Janet) has a much better singing voice than most actresses cast in the role, and gets in all the vocal riffs in "Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me" usually glossed over with breathy tones.

Slow Burn managed to find a Rocky (Miguel Quintero) that actually looks every muscled-inch the part. What Quintero lacks in acting finesse is compensated for by the fact that he looks so much the part and has natural stage presence. On the night attended Matthew Korinko had peculiar timing as the Narrator. At first he seemed to be gauging the audience response between lines, and waiting to see how much they would be participating. As the show progressed, however, the long spaces between his lines made it seem as though he was searching to remember the script. Other than Buzzeo as Frank 'N' Furter, the actor with the strongest stage presence in the cast is Renata Eastlick who plays both Magenta and the Usherette. She has a great singing voice and a mischievous expression that seems ever slightly amused as the antics of Frank 'N' Furter.

The Slow Burn Theatre production off The Rocky Horror Show will be appearing through October 30, 2010, at the West Boca Performing Arts Center on the campus of West Boca High, 12811 West Glades Rd. (3.5 miles west of 441). Performances are Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 for Adults, $20 for Seniors, and $15 for Students.

The Slow Burn Theatre Company is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) professional theatre company hiring local actors and actresses. They are committed to bringing high-quality contemporary musical theatre to South Florida, and proving that modern Broadway can rock. The company offers technical internships to local students, providing them with professional experience, encourage aspiring young artists by offering insight into the process through talk-backs after their Thursday evening performances. For more information on Slow Burn you may contact them by phone at (954) 323-7884 or online at www.slowburntheatre.com.

Cast:
Dr. Frank 'N' Furter: Larry Buzzeo
Brad: Noah Levine
Janet: Alexa Capiello
Magenta/Usherette: Renata Eastlick
Riff Raff: Rick Pena
Rocky: Miguel Quintero
Columbia: Anne Chamberlain
Eddie/Dr. Scott: Clay Cartland
Narrator: Matthew Korinko
Phantoms: Troy Davidson, Arturo Sierra, Vance Vlasek, Mary Gundlach, Sabrina Gore, Yesenia Iglesias

Crew:
Director/Choreographer: Patrick Fitzwater
Musical Director: Phil Hinton
Scenic Design: Ian T. Almeida
Lighting Designer: Lane Blank
Sound: Traci Almeida
Costumes: Rick Pena
Stage Manager: Jon Jones


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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