Monday, October 7, 2013

The Rocky Horror Show at the Paper Wing Theater-

LJ Brewer. 

No, that's not a typo or an incomplete thought- that's just the first thing I needed to type. That's it. The name. And now I have more to say about the show-

You want to talk about all the terrific performances from the show, but the honest truth is that it’s hard to start writing about The Rocky Horror Show without focusing so much of your attention on the shows lead player. It’s the defining role of the show, it’s an iconic character, and LJ Brewer brings Frankenfurter to life and utterly blows (pun intended) each and every audience away with the performance. The moment before he struts onto the stage the entire tone shifts and you can feel an absolutely electrical moment shiver through the crowd (with anticipation, yes, I know). You can just suck in the energy from the players on the stage to the customers in the seats to the band and everywhere in between as Frank takes his place in front of the stage lights and hits the familiar notes and lyrics “Well how do you do?” At that moment, we’re all slaves to LJ Brewer and he can do whatever the hell he wants with each and every one of us. There is absolute power in the performance and LJ Brewer delivers with a charisma few ever hope to achieve.

But no matter how good he is, LJ Brewer is definitely not alone on the stage. And he’s also not the only one returning to a familiar role. Heather Hahn returns as Janet, carrying charm, comedy, and seduction in perfectly measured … uhhh.. .. (I can’t resist) cups. (I was going to go with levels, but I think some of this rant should have a little of pervisity in it.) Nicholas Kelly steps into the milquetoast shoes of Brad and this chalks up another fun performance from the veteran Winger. The young couple are on their way to see old friend, Dr. Scott (Shane Dallmann), when an unfortunate flat tire in the pouring rain leads them to follow a light toward the old spooky castle where events are about to unfold.

Frank is joined by his assistants, Riff Raff (Taylor Landess), Magenta (Jourdain Barton), and Columbia (Taylor Noel Young) in his mad plot to create a personal monster designed for his own particular interests. All details regarding The Denton Incident are explained by the knowledgeable  (and clearly neckless) Criminologist, Jay Devine. Everyone rises to the occasion and delivers a number of great performances, comedic timing, and they’ve been well prepared for the audience participatory “shout outs” during the performance with enough pauses  to allow people to feel as if they were part of the experience themselves.

And that’s what Rocky Horror is: An Experience. It’s not a traditional show, it’s not just people on stage doing their thing and then receiving applause- everyone is being let it on the jokes, on the moments, and it’s something audiences get to share with the performers. I don’t know anyone who delivers the goods as well as this Theatre, and anyone missing out is really going to be missing out. The show runs throughout October, playing Friday and Saturday nights at 8 pm with a special Midnight show on Saturdays. There are also two shows on Halloween- the 8 pm and Midnight shows. Costumes are encouraged, props encouraged, and riffing (shout outs) virtually in demand. Casts members are willing to take photos in the lobby, but photography during the show itself is prohibited. Additionally, this is not a “shadow cast” performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, this is the stage production without the film screening in the background. Be prepared for something a little different in what is normally so very familiar so very many … who are… familiar… with… well, anyway, I think you get the point, yes?

(In the interest of full disclosure: I had the opportunity two years previously to be a part of the Rocky Horror Show with the Paper Wing Theatre as one of the Transylvanians. I had a blast during that particular performance and many of the players from that show have returned for this round. Maybe you think that will color my opinion or my recommendation. Fair enough. None-the-less, there are many ways to perform the show and there were obvious changes to direction and style from the last time. So this was a new experience entirely for me AND I don’t really believe that my previous experiences disqualify my opinions. I’m just sharing some thoughts on local shows and I’ll just keep on doing it my way.–Mark)

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