Anna Holloway review: Classic 'Rocky Horror' performed at Lyric in the Plaza
Lyric Theatre produces a triennial version of “The Rocky Horror Show” by Richard O’Brien. This year’s effort addresses the deeply classical roots of this theatrical masterwork. J. Robert Moore, who starred in an earlier Lyric production of this archetypal show, directed this edition, unleashing the subtle humor and delicate allusions of O’Brien’s original vision.
“The Rocky Horror Show” references a classic film genre of the 1950s and ’60s, and Lyric’s Plaza Theatre is decorated to recall the elegances of the period: Red velvet curtains that pull back diagonally, swags of filament lights, and posters of well-endowed young women threatened by creatures from beyond our solar system. The audience, appreciative of these efforts at recovering a forgotten time in our shared history, dressed for the occasion. Many theatergoers were attired in feather boas, brocade corsets, glittering stilettos and gold lamé.
The women were dressed nicely, too.
“Rocky Horror” is a participatory theatrical experience; many long-time aficionados will be aware that certain physical items are de rigeur. In an effort to both maintain security — after all, one cannot permit just anyone to bring things into a crowded theater these days — and in deliberate homage to the intensely capitalistic mood of the period, Lyric thoughtfully provided at least one of these items gratis and had boxes of the others for sale in the lobby. In addition, a cocktail bar was available, including the option to buy a scientifically formulated medicinal dose to coincide with a particular moment in the show.
The performances were nuanced and professional. Starring as Dr. Furter, also called "Frank," the scientist who creates Rocky, Eric Ulloa’s masterful and commanding presence dominated the stage. The 6”+ stilettos furnished by costumier Armado Ortiz served to enhance Ulloa’s natural attributes. Frank’s henchpersons were ably and eerily portrayed by Elvie Ellis as the disconcertingly genial and unnervingly ever-present Riff Raff; Kat Metcalfe as the sophisticated and intriguingly accented Magenta; and Janna Linae Schmid as the sweet-yet-uncloying henchperson-with-a-heart-of-gold, Columbia.
As the newly engaged couple seeking shelter from the rain, Antonio Rodriguez and Emily J. Pace as Brad Majors and Janet Weiss were delightfully naïve and appealingly vulnerable foils for the scientist. Returning as Rocky, the innocent and trusting creation — a result of Frank’n’Furter’s experiments — was the swooningly muscly Haulston Mann, who brought classical acting technique to the fore in his representation of Rocky’s inevitable initiation into maturity … as it were.
Appearing in the short-lived role of Eddie, the delivery boy, Matthew Alvin Brown gave the character real body. The role of Narrator, who ties the story together in a form of verbal bondage, was local performer Brett Young, appearing almost as an incarnation of Vincent Price. Finally shining a light on the darker elements, the great Dr. Scott was portrayed, in a daringly Teutonic form, by Matthew Alvin Brown, who brought some definite sparkle to this portrayal, with an almost wizardlike allusion to classic film.
Costumier Ortiz really outdid himself in creating and reflecting the atmosphere of the production on the bodies of the performers. The peacock-colored and richly feathered creation in which we first meet Frank was truly a couture piece. Uses of flat white and rich reds enhanced the underlying themes of the play, with genteel allusions to various bodily fluids. Light-painter Favian J. Garcia elevated the uses of brightness and shadow in truly illuminating ways; the scenic architecture was designed by Jon Young, who created a castle that had a definitely "rocky" texture — perfect for the action of the play. The musical numbers were crafted with refinement and style by choreographer Hui Cha Poos, and musical director Brian Hamilton kept everyone on the mark with this classic score.
An illuminating and enlightening production. Not suitable for children; no one under 13 years of age will be admitted.
"The Rocky Horror Show" runs Wednesday through Sunday through Nov. 2 at Lyric on the Plaza. There are several midnight shows scheduled during the run, including Oct. 31. For dates and tickets, call the Lyric Box Office at 405-524-9312 or go to http://www.lyrictheatreokc.org/.
Note: Curtain time on school nights (Wednesday-Thursday) is 7:30 p.m., and for this production, Sunday shows are at 5 p.m.