The Rocky Horror Show is a classic that had chilled, thrilled, and fulfilled audiences since the 70s. I have seen Rocky Horror numerous times but considering that the show provides endless possibilities in interpretation, each one has been completely different. Despite the show being around for over four decades, it has proven that you don’t need to re-invent a show every few years to keep people interested and wanting more.
Last Friday, Hart House theatre had its opening night of The Rocky Horror Show and it was incredible. The cast was lively with energy higher than their heels and what seemed like a close bond tighter than their corsets.
What I think is so appealing about this production is the amount of audience involvement. The audience was an essential part of the show as they are encouraged to shout and heckle the actors with the classic call backs most fans know. The actors responded brilliantly with quick witted improv and excellent comedic timing that is consistent throughout the show. The idea of audience participation demolishes the distancing device and shatters down the fourth wall that is often set in place between the actors and the audience and you begin to feel a part of the cast. As the actors directly communicate with the audience by sometimes a few words or a glare, you suddenly become immersed in the action. However, there were times when the audience got a bit out of hand and some interesting things were shouted, but the actors played it off well and they found out how to shush the audience in the way their character would.
I applaud the director, Jennifer Walls, with her fresh take on the show and her casting choices. Chris Tsujiuchi’s mindblowing vocals in his portrayal of the transexual Transalvanian Frank N Furter gave me goose bumps along with Ian Backstorm as the angsty and seemingly loyal handyman to Frank N Furter, Riff Raff. Despite Magenta and Columbia being a hit, one of the highlights for me in the show was the Narrator. In the movie and usually in stage productions, the Narrator is portrayed as an older slightly reserved man but that was not the case in this production, actually it was far from it. Heidi Michelle Thomas had me in stitches from her first line to her last, except it wasn’t entirely her words but her ever changing outfits, her fantastic beehive type wig, and her body presence on stage. With each appearance back on stage, not only did her outfits switch and become comically smaller and smaller but she had a new drink dangling from her fingers each time as she became more and more drunk. A lot of the call backs from the audience were directed at her and she reacted to them hilariously. I also have a lot of respect for all the actors for dancing so intricate and well in their scantily clad outfits and the massive high heels they all had on, especially Rachel Hart as Usherette/Magenta who had a shoe break in the middle of a number but you could barely tell as it didn’t stop her from serenading us all with the opening song.
If you are looking for a show covered in sequins and fishnets that has unique characters that can make your stomach ache from laughing, then jump to the left, take a step to the riiii-i-ght and start doing the Time Warp at the Hart House’s production of The Rocky Horror Show. Just remember “you’re very lucky to be invited up to Frank’s laboratory. Some people would give their right arm for the privilege.” It’s a show that everyone should see at least once because it simply hard to describe, you have to see it yourself to understand it.