Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
The Rocky Horror Show
Director Kevin Connors has done a wonderful job of keeping the show on the move, and the musical numbers, with lively choreography by Chris McNiff, are a total delight. The scenic design by Sean Sanford provides the perfect setting for all of the bizarre and humorous antics to play out.
Another thing that makes this staging work is the fact that the cast has been extremely well chosen. The slightly square couple, Brad and Janet (played, respectively, by Michael Luongo and Skye Gillespie), put the plot in motion when they arrive completely by chance at Frank 'N' Furter's castle. Luongo and Gillespie are a real hoot, capturing the ideal tone somewhere between realism and high camp. The director has imbued the sense of naughtiness throughout the show and one can imagine that the cast must love what they are doing. As the slightly odd Riff Raff, Jeff Raab is a scream, and he is matched by Leigh Martha Klinger, who is wonderful as Magenta, and the slightly ditzy and skillful Hillary Ekwall as Columbia.
Also in the show is the muscular and funny Domenic Servidio as Frank 'N' Furter's creation of the perfect man, Rocky. Servidio, clad simply in a gold speedo, is able to do the most astonishing things with his pectoral muscles, which must be seen to be believed. John Treacy Egan does double duty as both Eddie and Dr. Scott and he scores in both parts. In various supporting roles, Brianna Bauch and Stephen Petrovich add a great deal of amusement to the show and are totally in the festive spirit of the production.
Of course, without the right Frank 'N' Furter, The Rocky Horror Show wouldn't begin to work. Clad in scandalous costumes and displaying a seductive tone, Justin Johnston is everything you could ask for; the fact that he almost makes you forget Tim Curry from the film version is saying quite a lot. One cast member who nearly steals the show is Jim Schilling as The Narrator, as he weaves in and out of the action carrying an open book. Schilling takes such pleasure in delivering every delicious line that his frequent appearances are most welcome and one hangs on his every word.
Director Kevin Connors, in addition to doing splendid work with his actors, also scores aces with his production team. The costume design by Diane Vanderkroef is downright sinuous and entirely appropriate for the show, with lots of fishnet stockings and garter belts. The lighting design by RJ Romeo is perfect, adding a great deal to the atmosphere onstage, and the excellent musical director, Tony Bellomy, leads a rollicking band. If there is one problem with the production, it is that the music occasionally drowns out the actors singing, which can make it hard to make out some of the lyrics. Still, this is minor flaw in the grand scheme of the show.
By and large, all of the musical numbers land sensationally, especially Brad's "Once in a While" and Janet's "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me," which begins the second act in a fantastic way.
Music Theatre of Connecticut's production of The Rocky Horror Show is definitely worth seeing, even if you've seen the movie, and the fact that the actors are performing almost literally in your lap only adds to the festivity of this show. It must be mentioned that the cast will encourage you, at the curtain calls, to do "The Time Warp" with them and the audience I saw the show with seemed to be having the time of their lives.
The Rocky Horror Show runs through April 8, 2023, at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Ave., Norwalk CT. For tickets and information, please visit www.musictheatreofct.com.