It is no real surprise that the average age of the audience at The Rocky Horror Show, which opened last night at Circle In The Square, is somewhere between 40 and 50. Certainly there were several younger, and older, in the audience at the performance I attended, but the people who turned the movie into a cult classic and know exactly how many times they saw it in their youth are rapidly approaching the big 5-0.
They're the perfect audience for this revival, eager to revisit this rite of passage and as willing to forgive its inadequacies as they are to glory in its enduring attack on social mores which have been discredited and have crumbled in recent decades. Nothing about this show is delightfully shocking anymore. Nothing about it is even clever or witty. The songs are at best generically serviceable. The dialogue exists only as cues for the audience to inject the appropriate and codified comment, question, or judgement.
The performances of this revival cast are, appropriately, cartoonish and pander to a somewhat embarrassing camp aesthetic of the early 70s, with a few used condoms tossed about the stage to acknowledge a current reality. Alice Ripley (Janet Weiss) survives best, managing several good moments, usually when singing. Tom Hewitt (Frank N' Furter) blusters his way through the evening with a strangely commanding stage presence. Dick Cavett (the Narrator formerly with no neck) manages to both amuse and irritate, injecting a number of ad libs best left to third rate comedians employed to warm up sitcom audiences. And Sebastian LaCause (Rocky) has a nice body, which is shown to advantage, and bleached white hair, which isn't. None of the rest of the cast make any lasting impression whatsoever.
David Rockwell's set, David C. Woolard's costumes, and Paul Gallo's lighting are notable for looking like they cost a lot of money, but still manage to appear cheap and shoddy. Christopher Ashley's direction at least keeps things moving along at a quick pace, except when Mr. Cavett takes the stage. Jerry Mitchell's choreography is creative and lively, but can't carry the rest of the production on its shoulders.
The final question is, of course, at $79.50 a ticket, is The Rocky Horror Show worth seeing? Yes. Revisiting one's youth for a few hours is cheap at any price.
The Rocky Horror Show Book, music and lyrics by Richard O'Brien. Directed by Christopher Ashley. Choreography by Jerry Mitchell. Starring Dick Cavett, Lea DeLaria, Jarrod Emick, Joan Jett, Alice Ripley, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Tom Hewitt. Also starring Raul Esparza and Sebastian LaCause. Scenic design by David Rockwell. Costume design by David C. Woolard. Lighting design by Paul Gallo. Sound design by T. Richard Fitzgerald/Domonic Sack. Video design Batwin + Robin Productions.
Theatre: Circle In The Square, 1633 Broadway, between Broadway and 8th Avenue at 50th Street
Running time: 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission
Audience: May be inappropriate for ages 14 and younger (sexual situations). Children under 4 are not permitted in the theatre.
Schedule: Tuesday through Friday 8 PM, Saturday 5 PM and 9:45 PM, Sunday 2 PM and 7 PM
Ticket prices: $79.50 (All performances between December 25 and December 31 $85)
Tickets online: Tele-charge
Tickets by phone: Tele-charge at (212)239-6200, or outside the New York metro area (800)545-2559, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Tickets in person: Box Office hours Monday 10 AM to 8 PM, Tuesday through Friday 10 AM to 8:30 PM, Saturday Noon to 10 PM, Sunday 11 AM to 7:30 PM
Tickets by Snail Mail: The Rocky Horror Show, PO Box 998, Times Square Station, New York, NY 10108-0998