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Rocky Horror Show
American Stage

Also see Bill's review of Blackbird: The Story of Josephine Baker

Rocky Horror Show
Ericka Womack-Brown, Lulu Picart, Matthew McGee, Alison Burns and Jim Sorenson
American Stage has just finished presenting Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show as its 27th presentation of American Stage in the Park. For the first 20 something years there was an annual production of one of Shakespeare's plays, but beginning in 2006 this changed to a musical. As this sort of outdoor presentation is a little less formal, American Stage has chosen musicals such as Hair in 2010, and Rent in 2011 that lend themselves to a relaxed treatment. Rocky Horror Show was a perfect choice. I had never seen the show on stage, only the movie, but always suspected it would be more fun live. Was it ever! Even though many of us of a certain age have the performances of Tim Curry, Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Susan Sarandon (in her very first film role) and Barry Bostwick locked in our memory banks, it is not necessary to try and duplicate the film on stage. The material is good enough to allow performers to bring their own special qualities to the show. And that is exactly what director Karla Hartley fostered. For sure, every actor on that stage had seen the movie, but they lovingly paid tribute, without copying. The antics on the stage were wild, weird and perfect for a spring night.

American Stage presented a fabulous cast, just what is needed for the hi-jinx of this show. Kelly Bostick, and Georgia Mallory Guy led off as the Usherettes, singing "Science Fiction/Double Feature," assisted by Joel Gennari lending an air of unsettling pan-sexuality, which was a perfect way to set the highly erotically charged mood of the piece. Alison Burns was wonderful as Janet: uptight early on, a completely changed woman later. Jim Sorensen, as Brad, was also was able to play the extremes of his role. Both had great voices. American Stage favorite, Matthew McGee as Dr. Frank N. Furter toned down the role's fruitiness, underplaying where others have gone right up and over the top. I loved it. He was unafraid to ad-lib to hilarious effect. One time when he got tongue tied on a line he rewound the tape in his brain and tried it again, perfect for this character and this show. The audience loved him, and so did I. I have loved his work in several other productions, but this was my favorite Matt McGee performance. Victor Chan as Riff Raff and Ericka Womack-Brown as Magenta led a high energy "Time Warp," the musical's best song. Ushers and others were dancing in the isles and an encore was required. Mr. Chan's Riff Raff was more loveable teddy bear than eerie, but he carried it off well. Eye Candy was provided by Jose Urbino's Rocky, and he also danced well. Females in the audience as well as some of the men loved what he had to offer. Eddie and his alter ego, Dr. Everett V. Scott, were played by Lulu Picart, as a dike on a bike which was very funny. Her vocals were powerful in the way only a female can reach down and sing the R&B tinged blues. All of the music was well supported by the band, consisting of Michael Raabe, Paul Stoddart, Joe Grady and Burt Rushing. They were loud, but the sound design effectively kept things in balance.

The stage at Demons Landing is very large and multi-leveled. Karla Hartley moved her cast all around the stage so that each location was effectively delineated and defined with set pieces. She was helped by the set designs of Steve Mitchell. The effective choreography by Domenic Bisesti was energetic and well executed by the cast. The production unfolded smoothly, thanks to Stage Manager Garry Allan Breul. This was the best American Stage in the Park production I have seen, so far.

American Stage Theater Company presents Rocky Horror Show through May 13, 2012, at Demons Landing in St. Petersburg. For more information, visit americanstage.org.

The Cast (in order of appearance)
Usherettes: Kelly Bostick, Joel Gennari and Georgia Mallory Guy
Magenta: Ericka Womack-Brown
Columbia: Megan Nagy
Brad Majors: Brad Sorenson
Janet Weiss: Alison Burns
Simon Lock, the Narrator: Steven Flaa
Riff Raff: Victor Chan
Dr. Frank N. Furter: Matthew McGee
Rocky Horror: Jose Urbino
Eddie/Dr. Everett V. Scott: Lulu Picart.

The Band
Michael Raabe: Keyboards
Paul Stoddart: Guitar
Joe Grady: Bass
Burt Rushing: Drums

Direction: Karla Hartley
Choreography: Domenic Bisesti
Set design: Steve Mitchell
Lighting Design: Joseph P. Oshry
Costume Design: Trish Kelley


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--William S. Oser



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