Thunder vs. Bulls: Five takeaways from OKC's win vs. ChicagoMillwood High School pulls basketball team off court amid COVID 'super-spreader' at Community Christian

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Camp Classic 'The Rocky Horror Show' at OCCC

Richard O’Brien wrote the script and songs for “The Rocky Horror Show” in 1973 as an intentional spoof of 1950s B-movies. His particular targets, early science fiction films and muscle man flics, pre-date the lives of most of the cast of the production currently playing at OCCC’s Bruce Owen theatre and predate the experience of most of their audience. The cult classic is usually produced around Halloween, where it fits into the spirit of the holiday. The show blatantly invites audience costumes and energetic and vocal participation; audiences tend to treat it as either a target for mockery or as a place to watch others in the audience act out. It’s not often treated as a “real” piece of musical theater with quiet and appreciative attention. However, when that’s how an audience behaves, the cast and director had better be ready to deliver a story.

Director Jon Haque has taken his young cast in a light and thoughtful direction, clearly expecting audience participation and yet fully prepared to tell a story. The cast is enthusiastic and effectively delivers a real production. The opening night show was dedicated to cast member JD Bergner, whose absence the cast handled very well. Bergner is slated to return to the role of Narrator for the remaining performances.

Leading the cast was Larz Hoban as Dr. Frank-n-furter, the transvestite “mad scientist” who had created new life in the person of the physically perfect “Rocky Horror,” played by Isaac Roman. Frank’s scheme to create the perfect lover is stumbled upon by the incredibly ordinary Brad Majors (Dillon Griffitts) and his fiancé Janet Weiss (Daraja “Rae” Stewart), whose flat tire has stranded them on the proverbial dark and stormy night. Frank’s castle, where they go to seek help, is managed by a host of “phantoms” led by the handyman Riff-Raff (Keegan Rose) and his sister the castle domestic, Magenta (Bethanie Hamilton). Among the others is the Columbia, a groupie (Megan Rich) and her former lover Eddie, a delivery boy (David Chen).

Frank, having married Rocky, then proceeds to indoctrinate both Janet and Brad into his cult of orgiastic hedonism. This naturally upsets their middle-class values, and much mischief ensues. Tying the show together is the Narrator, who for this performance was played by Taylor Reich. Reich also played the role of Dr. Scott, the “rival” scientist whose nearby home was Brad and Janet’s original destination. The arrival of Scott uncovers the plot of the aliens (for so Frank and Riff-Raff and Magenta are revealed to be) to study earthlings as a prelude to invading. Frank, having chosen to live among the earth people, must be punished by his colleagues; the consequences are tragic and leave Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott to ponder the strangeness of the universe.

This plot is more than worthy of old B-movies; for modern audiences, unfamiliar with the genre being satirized, it’s also worthy of being mocked for itself. Faced with the rare audience who actually want to follow the story, a young and inexperienced cast could falter and hold back. This cast held on to the underlying goal of theatre and offered a solid story to follow.

Hoban’s singing and unabashed physicality were entirely delightful and compelling. He attacked the set with confidence that, in turn, convincingly demonstrated that the shaky bits were supposed to look like that. Roman’s Rocky is appropriately manly and naïve, and the rest of the cast delivered light-hearted and campy performances. The band, led by music director Michael Boyle, was on stage as a piece of the background; saxophonist Stanley Hall even has a dance number.

Small college theatres, like smaller community theatres, provide some of the preliminary experiences that can lead to committed theatre audiences and to professional careers. Oklahoma City Community College, at 7777 S. May, Oklahoma City, has offered classic comedies like “Scapino” and classic tragedies like “Macbeth”; their current production of “The Rocky Horror Show” plays Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 through March 13. Tickets available at the door; some shows have sold out, so be there early.