The Fighting Chance Productions presentation of The Rocky Horror Show may not be perfect, but it is a great deal of fun.
With the stage play now forty years old, the movie version only a couple years younger and with the cult following The Rocky Horror Show has garnered over the years, it came as a bit of a surprise that so many Rocky Horror virgins were identified in the audience opening night and subsequently branded with a large “V” on their foreheads in red lipstick.
For those other virgins who are planning on taking in the show, it tells the story of Brad and Janet who stumble upon Dr. Frank N. Furter’s castle looking for help after their car breaks down one stormy night. The couple happens to have arrived on the same night the pansexual mad scientist unveils his newest creation, the well-built and well-endowed Rocky. The ensuing hijinks include a number of sexual pairings, the re-murder of the Furter’s former lover Eddie and the discovery that the castle is actually a spaceship which has brought Furter and his minions to earth from their home planet of Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania.
Richard O’Brien’s deliciously silly rock and roll songs help to underscore the ridiculousness of his story and effectively send-up the horror genre. The cast here attack the songs with verve and there are some great vocals, when you can hear them, as once again Fighting Chance was dogged by sound issues. With only the leads wearing microphones, the sound from the energetic ensemble is all but lost and while musical director Kerry O’Donovan leads the small rock band with skill, they could stand to dial it back a few notches to help.
Despite the sound problems, when the microphones did kick-in, the cast largely delivers.
Seth Little as the cross-dressing Frank N. Furter gives a delightful Tim Curry inspired performance with a great voice and a wicked range and while I would normally be disappointed in an impersonation, Little does such a successful job here that I am willing to forgive. Great performances can sometimes be all about the reactions and Little is a master.
Matching Little is a superb performance by Steffanie Davis with one of the best of voices of the night and a wonderful over-the-top performance as Dr Scott.
In an un-credited performance Sean Allan gives an outstanding performance as the show’s narrator. William Hopkins and Erika Thompson bring a suitable naivety to Brad and Janet and their “Over At The Frankinstein Place” is pure musical joy and Ray Boulay nails Riff-Raff’s rock sound.
A big part of the show’s success is in its interactive nature with the audience encouraged to throw confetti, rice and playing cards at appropriate times. You can buy your $5 prop bag (highly recommended) at the bar as it definitely adds to the fun of the night. Don’t worry if you don’t know when or why though as you’re also given a handy cheat sheet to let you know when the props are to be used.
Another big plus is the heckling that is also encouraged. For anyone that has seen an interactive screening of the movie version you will know that along with the props certain lines also illicit certain reactions from the crowd. For example, every time someone mentions Brad’s name they will yell “asshole” and when Janet’s name is mentioned they yell “slut”. Director Ryan Mooney seeds the audience with cast members to help, but the funniest exchanges come from what appears to be actual audience members joining in. It is this seemingly organic nature of the interaction that makes some of it laugh-out-loud funny. It is apparent that Mooney has worked with the cast in preparing them for this audience interaction, resulting in some very funny reactions.
With Vancouver’s Ridge Theatre, the home to annual interactive showings of the movie version, now closed, it remains to be seen if Vancouver will see a screening this year. For those looking for their annual Halloween fill of this campy show the Fighting Chance Productions version may just be what you need. It ain’t perfect, but damn it is fun.
Music, lyrics and book by Richard O’Brien. Directed by Ryan Mooney. A Fighting Chance Productions presentation. On stage at the Jericho Arts Centre through October 26, 2013. Visit http://fightingchanceproductions.ca for tickets and information.