The Randolph Academy has put a fresh spin on the 36 year old Rocky Horror Show. Toronto’s Bathurst Street Theatre is the perfect place to mount Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show, as the theatre feels a lot like the old castle in the play.
The Drew Carey Show had a famous scene that gives a real feel of seeing Rocky Horror. Before flash mobs and Glee, there was The Rocky Horror Show.I’ve seen the movie dozens of times over the years, even once in the late 80’s in New York City. There’s a huge subculture and fan base for Rocky Horror, and it is the longest running movie in cinematic history. Audience participation is a huge part of the Rocky Horror experience, with people often dressing up as favourite characters for midnight showings.
The story is about Brad and Janet, a rather vanilla couple, from mid-America. They have car trouble and seek assistance at a castle. There they are offered shelter and encounter all sorts of unexpected people within the castle; ranging from transvestites to a mad scientist who has discovered the secret to life itself.
Brad and Janet are played by Eitan Kerzman and Cheyenne Scott. I particularly enjoyed Kerzman as Brad. The entire cast was great, but Kerzman won me over with his passion and charisma.
Like other shows I have seen at The Randolph Academy, there really isn’t a weak link in the production. There’s a fantastic synergy and it’s exciting to watch. It’s obvious that a lot of people spent a lot of time preparing the show, and it pays huge dividends. Kerry Gage’s choreography is outstanding and the talent is a pleasure to witness.
The freshness that this production offers includes a few things. Having two female narrators instead of one stuffy male reminds me of the old Rolling Stones line about “putting a lemon squeeze on an old Italian pizza”. Also spicing up the play is having Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter and his creation, Rocky, played by black actors.
Seeing Brandyn McKinson as Frank and Paul Waliggo Kakeeto as Rocky made the play more optimistic and hopeful. From my memory of Rocky Horror all those years ago, the audience and cast were almost entirely white, even in NYC. McKinson and Waliggo Kakeeto weren’t great because they were black, but they were great and just happened to be black. It’s SO refreshing!
Lindsay Anne Black’s set was a lot of fun. It allowed a lot of room for the wonderful phantoms and Transylvanians and also provided “private” rooms for Frank ‘n’ Furter’s night time fun.
Another fun twist was having the siblings Riff Raff and Magenta played by two women. Rikki Browne and Magenta added a lot of fun as sisters instead of the “traditional” incestuous brother (Riff Raff) and sister (Magenta).
There were minor things I didn’t like but didn’t diminish my fun. I prefer a “dirtier” Rocky Horror and more audience participation. However, this version is onstage at The Randolph Academy in 2011, not Greenwich Village in 1988. I’m not a big fan of the sound at Bathurst Street Theatre either. It’s big and it’s clean, but it doesn’t fill the room like I would like.
None of this detracts from a really fun evening though. The show deserved the standing ovation it received. I’d go back to the midnight show on Friday if I didn’t already have plans! Check it out if you can!
–Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show
-Randolph Centre for the Arts–Bathurst Street Theatre,
736 Bathurst Street, Toronto
-July 26—28 and 30 at 8 p.m.
-July 29, at 11:59 p.m.
–Tickets are $26.75 and are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets Call 416 872 1111 OR visit www.ticketmaster.ca
-Dinner + Theatre package available with Southern Accent; see Ticketmaster for details
-For groups of 15 or more call 416 924 2243 x226