Fun with Interactive Theatre
Note: Extended to Dec. 2.
If you like taking the kiddies to a panto where they yell out advice for the hero and boo the villain, then you’d better rush to see Rocky Horror Show at Stratford’s Avon Theatre. But leave the kids at home. This is an interactive adult-only show.
At first, it feels a little like you’re at a party where everyone knows everyone else, and you’re the newcomer. The audience seems to know every line of the show, and although I had seen the movie years ago, I certainly wasn’t as familiar as the cult followers. I am, what Rocky Horror fans call, a virgin.
But soon, you are having just as much fun as all the others. The Rocky Horror Show is hilariously funny with great music and opportunity for audience participation.
Brad and Janet are a newly engaged, on their way home from a friend’s wedding. Their car breaks down, so of course, they walk to a nearby castle, where they are welcomed by the staff of Dr. Frank N. Furter. Dr. Furter is a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania, in a corset and fishnet stockings. Many strange and bawdy things happen after that, until some of the assistants turn out to be space aliens and fly away in a rocket.
Dan Chameroy commands the stage as drag queen Dr. Frank N. Furter. He has had plenty of experience in drag, as Plumbum, in Ross Petty’s annual Christmas panto. That role prepared him to handle the high heels and heckling that comes with Rocky Horror.
Jennifer Rider-Shaw is a perfect Janet, along with Sayer Roberts as Brad. Erica Peck opens the show as an usherette selling popcorn, and belts out the welcome song. Later she is very scary as Magenta. Robert Markus, who played Tommy in Stratford’s rock opera Tommy, again has the opportunity to demonstrate his outstanding vocals. He belts the high notes effortlessly as Riff Raff. Kimberly-Anne Truong is very cutesy as Columbia, and George Krissa has the perfect body for Rocky. Trevor Patt handles two roles well, keeping them distinctive – Eddie, the delivery boy, and the wheelchair-bound Nazi, Dr. Scott.
The most fascinating character is the Narrator, Steve Ross. Ross, in his 15th season at Stratford, has proven that he can handle any role. But his deadpan humour as the strangely weird narrator is magnificent. His comedic timing when handling the jeering audience is spot on.
The choreography is fascinating and the dancers are very sexy in their black leather. The signature number, “Time Warp”, is great fun.
There was also talent in the audience on opening night. I’m still not sure if the person yelling from the back was a plant, or just a Rocky Horror super fan who knew the alternate script inside out. In any case, the comments kept coming, and Ross’s response to them was hilarious. I hope there will be such a heckler in every audience.
The singing and the music are outstanding throughout the show. This is an assembly of Stratford’s best voices, handling the rock tunes like nobody’s business.
The Rocky Horror Show is billed as “the most fun you can have in fishnets”. So, for sure, dig out the fishnets and the feather boa to wear to the theatre. Then, pick up one of their Participation Bags. In it you’ll find everything you need to take part, including a newspaper to hold over your head in the rain, Dr. Furter’s pink rubber gloves, red lips lollypop, and a glow stick to wave in the air as you sing along. Wear the costume and go, ready to take part in all the action, and let loose!
The Rocky Horror Show continues in repertory until October 31 (Extended to Nov. 25) at the Avon Theatre, Stratford. Tickets are available at the Stratford Festival at 1-800-567-1600, or check www.stratfordfestival.ca
Photo: Left: Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Janet and Sayer Roberts as Brad in The Rocky Horror Show. Right: Dan Chameroy as Frank N. Furter. Photos by Cylla von Tiedemann. Left: Participation bag & contents — just for fun!
The Rocky Horror Show
By Richard O’Brien
Directed and choreographed by Donna Feore
Musical Direction by Laura Burton
Performed by Dan Chameroy, Erica Peck, Jennifer Rider-Shaw, Sayer Roberts, Steve Ross, Robert Markus, Kimberly-Ann Truong, George Krissa, Trevor Patt, et al.
Produced by Stratford Festival
Avon Theatre, Stratford
June 5 to October 31, (extended to Nov. 11) 2018 Note: Second Extension to November 25. Third Extension to Dec. 2!
Reviewed by Mary Alderson