move: Palozzi, Collins, Viele in A.C.T.s Rocky Horror.
the World Is Not a Stage
By James Yeara
Rocky Horror Show
Richard O’Brien, directed by Thomas Dalton Bambury
Albany Civic Theater, through Jan. 26
Rocky Horror Show is an indestructible wonder. The 1973
stage-musical parody of 1950s sci-fi movie became the 1975
cult film classic, fueled by the audience participation that
fully embodied Frank-N-Furter’s “Don’t Dream It, Be It” sentiment.
Attending the film was a rite of passage, and the musical
continues to be a hit: It recently closed at the Circle in
the Square (a production starring Dick Cavett among other
celebrities); there are innumerable undergrad productions
across the nation every year; and there’s an officially sanctioned
30th Anniversary Tour in England. The Rocky Horror Show
has become the safe way to rebel, to role-play, to connect
across generations through feather boas and time-honored call
and response. It’s near impossible not to have fun at The
Rocky Horror Show, because the film and the first 100
times you shared responses buzz through your head. Sense memory
is a powerful thing.
Albany Civic Theater’s current production of The Rocky
Horror Show has an appropriate costume design by David
Herrington, featuring some wonderful black latex/rubber fetish
wear—as well as stockings, garters and bustiers, feather boas
and mesh shirts. The hair/wig design by Loretta Romero and
the makeup design by Karen Cash create a familiar look for
Janet Weiss (Rebecca S. Bryden), Brad Majors (Dave Dixon),
Columbia (Mary Pekins), et al. Fans of the movie will recognize
what is being attempted.
The set design by Doug Peek and Mary Kozlowski features two
fabric faux-flame torches extreme down right, a painted series
of gothic arches in perspective extreme down left, and rope
lights on the spiral staircase and all through the laboratory
up center. Director and choreographer Thomas Dalton Bambury
(who also sees duty as Eddie, Frank-N-Furter’s rock &
rolling former lover) places his performers well about the
stage. There is a clean, uncluttered, very measured feng shui
of the stage here, slicker in places than Eddie’s DA. The
pit band, under the direction of David Cash, captures the
rhythms of The Rocky Horror Show and carries many tunes—especially
“The Time Warp,” which had more “Macarena” in it than the
raucous cult classic. In general, the singing on opening night
seemed an afterthought. It left an impression akin to seeing
a gaggle of Ken dolls dressed in black bondage wear: It’s
kind of funny, but the Kens are still missing something essential.
The audience participation also proves to be a tricky thing.
The 1993 national tour, which included Proctor’s Theatre,
substituted a preshow game show in place of line responses
in the show itself. The more intimate confines of Albany Civic
Theater lend for entrances through the house aisles, but not
much else. A.C.T.’s opening-night audience was split between
the raucous friends and relatives in the back right of the
house—who hollered and whooped at the end of most numbers—and
the rest of the onlookers, who applauded but didn’t participate
in the usual The Rocky Horror Picture Show banter.
I missed the toast, the toilet paper, the rice, and the squirt
guns of Rocky Horror past. The few who attempted tried-and-true
responses were soon cowed, and the performers, though well-placed,
seemed ill at ease with the audience. Some of the performers
did make eye contact, but real audience participation calls
for greater stuff. A.C.T.’s The Rocky Horror Show is
like a Mardi Gras parade minus the beads and the booze.