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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Iron Crow Delivers a Naughty ‘Rocky Horror Show’

Photo: Rob Clatterbuck
No man or woman is safe from the antics of the zany characters performing in Iron Crow Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror Show-The Musical.  As the second installment in the 2017-2018 Season of Identity, Director Sean Elias who is the Artistic Director and CEO of Iron Crow Theatre, must have had a gay ‘ole time helming this version of the cult favorite.  #hocoarts

With music, lyrics and book by Richard O'Brien, The Rocky Horror Show was adapted into the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  The campy rock musical spoofs the science fiction and B movies of the 1940’s and beyond while integrating the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Mr. Elias guides a somewhat different version of the musical with a deft hand bringing in a talented, high-energy, mischievous cast to lead the audience to witness a sexually fluid debauchery like no other on the stage. 

To add to the flavor, Costume Designer Danielle Harrow sprung opened the closets and brought out stilettos, fishnets and tight satin shorts, and that was just for the guys. The female cast members were attired in skimpy suggestive garb as well.

The dissolute mood is set when you first enter the intimate theater at the Motor House. Scantily clad “Usherettes” and “Phantoms” guide you to your seats with each patron toting a prop bag filled with an assortment of weird goodies to hurl around the theater.  A callout script prompts the audience to shout out a word or an epithet or take action to toss toilet paper, confetti or rice.  Also, included in the bag was a page from a newspaper, a rubber glove, glow stick, a party hat, a water pistol (no water in mine), a condom and a playing card.

If that isn’t enough, prior to the show the acerbic, slightly sadistic emcee appears (Eduard Van Osterom) and devilishly lures “virgin” audience members onto the stage to participate in a couple of “games.” One of those was a group of virgins laying on the floor whereby a person was told to eat a red velvet pastry off of the butt of another individual lying on the floor in front of him or her.  Another contest determined who made the best orgasm sounds.  I think you get the drift.

So, even for first time attendees of The Rocky Horror Show or “virgins,” the decadent atmosphere is already baked into the show by dint of the preludes and nothing should surprise, right?

The story revolves around Janet, played by Allison Bradbury, and her fiancé Brad, played by Nick Fruit, who enter a mysterious castle after their car blew out a tire on a stormy night.  The couple, innocent and naïve to the bone, merely wanted to make a phone call for help.  If that had happened, there would be no musical; Mr. O’Brien had other ideas.

The castle is filled with an assortment of odd souls who are servants of some sort to the master (or mistress) of the abode, Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter, played by Nicholas Miles, who claims he is a transvestite scientist from Transsexual, Transylvania.

He was determined to create the perfect male specimen—muscular—and he succeeds. But this was no Frankenstein monster with a severe scar on his forehead or a bolt across his neck. 

Let me introduce you to his creation, Rocky, played by Terrance Fleming.  Flexing his biceps repeatedly as if that was needed to showcase an impressively perfect physique, Mr. Fleming was perfectly cast in the role.  Ripped all over and rocking tightly contoured gold satin shorts, Mr. Fleming may have a body fat composition of zero or less and a muscle composition of 90 percent or more. Perfect indeed.  And he sings, too.  Mr. Fleming performs movingly in “The Sword of Damocles.”

Meanwhile Janet and Brad encounter these characters and interact with Frank ‘N’ Furter in ways they did not expect.  The couple discovered their inner selves with their bad-girl and bad-boy persona lying beneath the surface, and they were liberated by the insatiable libido of Frank ‘N’ Furter. The wacky story goes on but with all the surprises still to come, it’s best to leave it there.

Photo: Rob Clatterbuck
Allison Bradbury as Janet is excellent displaying a wide range of emotions from a frightened innocent young girl to one who had “enjoyed” an unexpected sexual experience. It is amazing that her strong voice holds up given the amount of screaming she is asked to do especially in the early encounters in the castle.  Ms. Bradbury’s duet with Nick Fruit with backup from the Phantoms in “Damn It Janet” is one of the show’s best.

As dorky, bespectacled Brad, Nick (my favorite) Fruit also transforms into a wild and crazy guy.   Don’t believe me?  Catch his show-stopping performance in the second act. Besides his athletic body, his proficient vocals are also on display in the aforementioned “Damn It Janet” and in the solo “Once in a While.”

Nicholas Miles as Frank ‘N’ Furter delivers a tour-de-force performance.  Commanding onstage, Mr. Miles delivers the goods in more ways than one.  His vocals are powerful and is highlighted by his rendition of  “Sweet Transvestite”  and also in “I Can Make You a Man” and “Planet Schmanet/Wise Up Janet Weiss.”

Nancy Linden as the Narrator, Christian Gonzalez as Riff Raff, Danielle Harrow as Magenta, spunky Caitlin Weaver as Columbia, and Meghan Taylor as Eddie/Dr. Scott perform their roles with skill and talent.

The Phantoms include Monica Albizo (also plays as one of the Usherettes), Alyssa Bell, Robert Corona, Roxanne Daneman (an Usherette), Justin Johnson, Cassandra Miller, Eduard Van Osterom, and Mark Quackenbush.  Other Usherettes include Danielle Harrow and Caitlin  Weaver.
These folks perform exceptionally—singing, dancing and comedic antics—throughout the production.  They also sit among the audience and lead the callouts adding to the loony atmosphere.

Quae Simpson skillfully choreographed the show.  The company dances in synch throughout and is especially enjoyable during the show’s iconic number “Time Warp.”

Mandee Ferrier Roberts ably conducts the five-piece orchestra that includes Chris Spagnolo, Jarrett Rettman, Tanner Selby and Garrett Fields.

Under the solid direction of Sean Elias, The Rocky Horror Show-The Musical is a well-staged, seductive, sexy, sassy and satirical spectacle.  With only until October 31 to view it, you should rush to get tickets. It is Iron Crow Theatre's annual fundraiser for both itself and Baltimore's Moveable Feast. If you can’t make it in time to see this production, it will likely appear next year. Either way, you should see it.

Running time: Two hours and 20 minutes with an intermission.

Advisory: The Rocky Horror Show-The Musical contains sexual situations, profanity and adult situations and is not recommended for children under age 18.

The Rocky Horror Show-The Musical runs through October 21 at the Motor House, 120 West North Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201. For tickets, click here

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