High heals, fish nets, bright red lips, short skirts, glowing lights, and loud music. No, this isn’t the runways during New York Fashion Week, it’s the opening scene of the Washington Savoyards production of The Rocky Horror Show.
With prop bag ($3 at the snack bar) in hand, I entered the theater as a virgin Rocky Horror audience member and little did I know that being a virgin would earn me a trip to the stage, an invitation to get on my knees and a lipsticked “V” drawn on my forehead. With my badge of virginal honor, I went back to my seat ready to follow the directions on the prop sheet in my small brown bag. The bag has items that allow the audience to interact with the actors on stage. Following the instructions, I first used a flashlight (to turn on when Brad and Janet are lost in the dark), and I also threw the section of toilet paper when the cast first mentions Dr. Scott. There are many more but I don’t want to give all the fun away.
It was these props that made The Rocky Horror Show so popular. Rocky began as a British rock musical stage play, a Kings Road production presented at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1973. Written by Richard O’Brien, the play is a parody of B-movie, science fiction and horror films of the late 1940’s through early 1970’s. Tim Curry starred in the original production and in the movie version produced in 1975.
This funny and stylishly bizarre musical is about a young couple named Brad (Chad W. Fornwalt) and Janet (Ali Hoxie) who get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. They see light from a distant castle and knock on the door with hopes of using the phone. Once the bizarre butler, Riff Raff (John Loughney), leads them inside, Brad and Janet leave everything they thought they were behind on the stoop.
… flawless and enthusiastic
They soon meet Dr. Frank N. Furter (Ryan Patrick Welsh), a mad scientist whose theme song and attire reveals him to be a “Sweet Transvestite from Transexual Transylvania.” Dr. Furter then introduces Brad and Janet to his latest experiment in human reanimation, Rocky (a well-sculpted Tim Rogan), in the song “I Can Make You a Man.” Through the doctor, Rocky, Brad, Janet, and the other characters get an introduction to a sexual revolution that opens a world of surprises.
Chad Fornwalt, as Brad, entertained the audience continually with his choices of line delivery and expressions, and Ryan Patrick Welsh, as Dr. Furter, sang and danced with an unwavering, unabashed fervor, and he did it all in 5 inch heals! The flawless and enthusiastic live music was performed by “The Band,” Conductor/Keyboard: Jason Solounias, Drums: Alex Aucoin, Guitar: Jaime Ibacache and Bass: Alex Weberthey.
The Rocky Horror Show has remained vibrant for almost 40 years because underneath its sexual theatricality is an overriding message about finding one’s self. The story is about getting rid of any emotional baggage, being joyful, and celebrating life. At its center is Dr. Furter, an anti-hero audiences fall in love with generation after generation.
Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.
Advisory: Intended for mature audiences because of language and sexual situations.
The Rocky Horror Show plays through November 4, 2012, presented by Washington Savoyards at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street, NE, Washington, DC. For tickets call 202-399-7993 or online click here.