Nothing quite says Halloween on Orcas like a campy cult classic, and Orcas Center delivers with its spooktacular production of “Rocky Horror” opening, appropriately, on Halloween night.
The Islands’ Sounder was given access to an advance showing and if what we saw was an indication of what’s to come, hang on to your laser beams! Aliens from a strange planet? Got ‘em! All-American hetero couple? Check! A sexy transsexual with a devoted following? Done! An Adonis look-alike with a dubious purpose? Absolutely!
Director Deborah Sparks, technical director Jake Perrine (who also plays the sexy transsexual, Dr. Frank N’ Furter), and musical director Grace McCune (who also has a rockin’ role in the cast!) have collaborated on an ambitious production of this gender-bending favorite and, in that collaboration, have created a world where things are not quite what they seem. Credits go to Sparks and Chris Brems for creating a set that is as fluid as the good doctor’s sexuality.
The campy usherette, Katharine Dorian, who offers the audience a primer of what they’re about to experience, sets the tone for a production that is sure to entertain, engage and delight even the most staid theatre-goer. And Bruce Langford narrates the story with commanding oratorical presence.
The storyline, for the uninitiated, involves visitors from the planet Transylvania who land their spaceship (disguised as a gothic castle) not far from the unsuspecting Brad and Janet (played with just the right amount of wide-eyed innocence by Eric Underwood and Colleen Smith) who suffer a flat tire on their way to visit Dr. Scott (Israel Guilford), an old college professor. Stranded in the middle of a rainstorm, the unsuspecting couple make their way to the light in the castle’s window in search of a phone, only to find themselves a world both shocking — and intriguing.
The castle’s doorman, played with ghoulish precision by Maddie Olson, invites the drenched duo in while informing them they’ve come on a most auspicious night. “The ‘master’s’ having a special affair this evening,” Riff Raff growls, and with that the two are made aware that this is no ordinary castle (is there ever an ‘ordinary’ castle?), and their host, the affable and outgoing transvestite Dr. Frank ‘N Furter, is no ordinary doctor. He has created Rocky, a creature “with blonde hair and a tan” (played with lusty innocence by Caleb Summers), who is perfect for relieving some “tension.”
The good doctor surrounds himself with a bevy of beauties including the sultry Magenta (Amanda Sparks), tap-dancing Columbia (Alison Calhoun) and a willowy cadre of “phantoms,” played with just the right amount of weirdness by Caleb Summers, Heather Kathryne, Isabella Schermerhorn, Israel Guilford, Katharine Dorian, Laura Kussman, Sommer McKenzie, Stormy Hildreth and Taylor Larsen.
With a score that draws the best from this musical cast, the rock n’ roll bassline underscores the sexual tension that is at the very heart of the story. Drawing on B-grade science fiction films of the 1930s and 40s, the libretto occasionally makes reference to old film stars like Faye Ray (“King Kong”) and Steve Reeves (“Tarzan”), which may be lost on some in the audience. And for those who know the show, never fear: Even with the “Time Warp” of history, there are plenty of opportunities for interactive participation.
Originally produced in London in 1973, “Rocky Horror” has often been seen as a precursor to the sexual revolution that marked the second half of the 20th century. With its gender-bending roles, its emphasis on pleasure, sexual fluidity and self-actualization (explained poignantly in the song “Don’t dream it, be it”) the play continues to challenge societal norms and gender identity even in today’s society.
The “Rocky Horror Show” runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from Oct. 31 – Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. with an additional late-night show on both Saturdays at 10 p.m. The earlier show is rated PG-13 while the late-night offering is rated R. Tickets range in price from $15 – $47 on www.orcascenter.org.