It’s easy to understand the appeal of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show, an homage to the extraterrestial camp of low-budget Science Fiction Scare Flicks and Drag Queens, as manifested by the pansexual, regal, yet defiantly childlike Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Rocky Horror fairly brims with overgrown children, completely at ease with their id (or shadow-self, if you like) who love to be naughty and certainly don’t mind being spanked. It’s all consensual (if somewhat devious) and thanks to the thriving Rocky Horror cult that arose from the midnight movie, the audience is positively encouraged to participate in these transgressive shenanigans. And who wouldn’t love permission to be bad? Director Joel Ferrell’s and The Dallas Theatre Center’s current production of Rocky Horror is a gloriously raucous spectacle that wallows in polymorphous perversity. It would be difficult to resist this alluring invitation to play in the forbidden zone (“Don’t dream it, be it.”) with all that elaborate glamor, bangles, sparkles, phalluses (including an 8 foot one, I think, that shoots confetti) the trippy, fetishy get-ups and gear, and absolutely no condemnation. Except maybe the Super-egos mocked as clueless and dull.
Brad Majors and Janet Weiss are attending a friend’s wedding. Janet catches the bouquet, prompting Brad’s proposal. (Later they will witness a very different kind of matrimony. Driving home in the rain, a flat tire forces them to seek help at Frank-N-Furter’s castle. Much to their surprise, the good doctor is hosting a convention cum Bacchanal for his guests from the Planet Transexual. He’s been creating a man named Rocky: scrumptious and dishy. Long on looks but short on intellect. Janet and Brad will wind up spending the night at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s, forever tainted by their journey into his “web of sin.” Frank-N-Furter beds them both and Janet, once she gets the itch, gleefully jumps Rocky’s bones while singing the giddy, Freudian “Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me” (“I wanna be dirty”). So much of Rocky Horror is about hedonism and playful mischief. Flouting convention and tradition.
Speaking of tradition, Ferrell addressed the surprising staging of Rocky Horror in a recent interview. Most often performed in more intimate, black box venues, he decided to begin DTC’s new season by putting Rocky Horror in the larger space, 500 seats, in the round. To resolve these challenges, the orchestra is placed in a somewhat shallow pit, center stage, capped by a practical steel tower on wheels, where much of the action occurs. There is, without a doubt, an extravagance of production values here, in keeping with the Dionysian spirit of Rocky Horror. Enormous screens, stairs, throbbing neon laboratory equipment, costumes by Wade Laboissonniere that range from the demented to the grotesque. You can’t help but admire Ferrell’s GGG (gorgeous, ghoulish and game) attitude towards content, though some risks pay off better than others. Placing the band too prominently can be a distraction. Despite simultaneous broadcast, it’s not always easy to follow the action. The costumes worn by Frank-N-Furter’s latest converts feature a bustle/horse’s tail that feels a bit miscalculated. Sometimes too much of a good thing can indeed be wonderful. And for the most part, Rocky Horror. is deliciously successful in its excess.
All this considered, Rocky Horror.is an immensely enjoyable, dizzy, dazzling ride that will tickle, chill and seduce you, if for no other reason than the magical audacity of drag and its perfectly balanced moments of kinky burlesque. The frenetic, ebullient impish cast. The shiny love missile Janet wields while playing with Rocky. The Transylvanian visitor in lederhosen. Dan Domenech’s (as Frank-N-Furter) triumphant moment in a blonde (Fay Wray?) wig while occupying a throne. The transformation is so…..what? Genuine? Confident? Unrepentant? Whatever else it may be, it’s a rush. A lightning rod for your wicked twin.
Dallas Theater Center presents The Rocky Horror Show with book, music and lyrics by Richard O’ Brien. Featuring the band : Foe Destroyer. Playing September 19 th-October 19th, 2014. Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. 2400 Flora Street, Dallas, Texas 75201. www.attpac.org 214-526-8210.
Cast : Liz Mikel (Dr. Scott, Eddie) Morgan Maby Mason (Janet Weiss) Alex Organ (Brad Majors) Dan Domenech (Dr. Frank-N-Furter) Chamblee Ferguson (Riff-Raff) Walter Lee (Columbia) Julie Johnson (Magenta) J.Brent Alford (Narrator) Justin Labosco (Rocky)
Phantoms : Jeremy Allen Dumont, Ryan-Patrick McLaughlin, Ian Patrick Stack, Ani Celisa Vera, Shannon Walsh.
Transylvanians : Cloud Allen, Jamison Green, Danielle Hollway, Sarah Keane, Rashaun Sibley.
Foe Destroyer : Chris McQueen (Lead Guitar) Daniel Garcia (Bass Guitar) Cade Sadler (Drums) Quinton Gray (Keyboard) Ben Bohorquez (Saxophone)