By the time this review hits the presses, it's my prediction that Oregon Cabaret Theatre will have sold out of tickets for "The Rocky Horror Show" and likely will have extended the run.
So engaged and ecstatic was the audience when I attended the show this past week — so primed for a good time — that things may have come off quite well even if the event had been fraught with the usual glitches that can plague the early stages of any new production.
Luckily for the audience, OCT's latest is yet another triumph for the company; a sexy and spirited romp through the insane world of Dr. Frank 'N' Furter and his coterie of deranged devotees.
For those readers who have been under a rock since 1975, here's a brief synopsis: Two sweet young people, Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, get stuck in the middle of nowhere on a dark and stormy night and are forced to depart the safety of their stranded car in search of help. Things go bizarrely and hilariously sideways when their search leads them to an eerie mansion on a hill. Let's leave it there so as not to ruin the experience for the RHC neophyte.
As Brad and Janet, the initially reticent couple attempting to navigate their way through a cartoon fun house of macabre characters, Jonathan Hoover and Amanda Andersen are great; Hoover's Brad is all bespectacled earnestness and feigned bravado in his attempts to protect Andersen's Janet from the lecherous proceedings to which they are both unwittingly exposed.
Their delightful degradation into debauchery is entertaining to watch; Andersen is peeled out of her prim, pink Jackie O. suit in short order, and Hoover gets down and dirty in full negligee without needing too much encouragement. But these two are designed to be but a small fraction of the main attraction. This night belongs to the more demented habitués of the Rocky Horror pantheon.
As Riff-Raff, Lucas Blair is sublime. His take on Furter's resident manservant is hysterical — a spastic, bug-eyed parrot-man who lurches from rake to apron with saccharine menace; a creature with an unscratchable itch.
Dr. Furter's female attendants are brilliantly conceived, as well. Carrie Lynn Brandon, as Columbia, comes over as a sort of hyper-sexual wind-up doll from the Island of Lost Toys, with taut bosom and lips constantly remoistened by seductive tonguings. Kristen Calvin's Magenta is a hot-to-trot hurricane of coital depravity, with a number of memorable scenes that include an R-rated tête-à-tête with an inanimate object.
As Rocky, Tony Carter rips and ripples onstage in a signature performance that long will be remembered by his audience. A manchild created by Furter as a pleasure puppet, Carter's Rocky is a hapless poster boy for total objectification; sporting a gold swimsuit, Carter is the willing marionette in some extremely high-octane choreography — a very pretty face, to be sure, but this guy can act, too.
Nathan Monk does a superb job in the ensemble, as well as in his role as the staid, Germanic Dr. Scott, a wheelchair-bound rival of Dr. Furter with a penchant for discreet cross-dressing. Valerie Rachelle is on point in her brief appearance as the doomed Eddie, and George Herkert plays the role of the Narrator with appropriate plummy, British creepiness.
It's important, given the iconic nature of the role, to have left the puppet master aside until we'd covered all those whose strings are being pulled. Dr. Frank 'N' Furter has been played a thousand times in a million different ways; he's one of the toughest characters to approach, because the people who know and love him know him and love him so well.
That said, Galloway Stevens is spectacular. Resplendent in lipstick red, thigh-high boots and leopard-print cape in one scene, lab coat or corset in the next, Stevens is the white-hot center of this fabulous show. The key to playing Furter is an understanding that, internal to the broad comedy of the role, there are subtle references that can be adopted so that a really good actor can take the good Doctor and make him fresh again. Stevens nails it. He plays Frank with the elegant weave of a heavyweight champion. Watch him closely through all the noise and color — there are subtleties at work here that show us the chops of a serious pro — one who deserves real recognition.
"Rocky Horror Show" runs through Oct. 31 at Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Music and lyrics are by Richard O'Brien, direction is by Valerie Rachelle and choreography is by Jonathan Hoover.
Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a Daily Tidings columnist, arts reviewer and freelance writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.