Cedar Rapids Iowa April 2002
On April 26th Play It Again…Rocky attended our beloved play in Cedar Rapids Iowa. First let me say the show was very successful; it sold out almost every performance. Extra shows were added. Those sold out as well. We had very high expectations. Upon entering Cedar Rapids we scouted out the venue. It was fantastic…an old church building. When we went inside I was very impressed with the lighting rig. They had two huge scaffolding platforms on either side of the stage. Between the stage and the scaffolding there was a lighting truss with some serious lighting on it.
The phantoms came out before the show to give a little talk on audience participation and to get the crowd going. It was shaping up pretty well.
There are three categories I examined with this show that pretty much cover everything; acting, appearance, and story.
Acting is the first category as it seems to have the biggest effect on the show. Now before I continue I must reiterate that the show was very successful. The crowd responded well, in fact there was a standing ovation afterwards. I am basing my opinions on my previous experience seeing the show.
I wasn’t very happy with the casting. There was a huge group of phantoms. Some of them really stood out with their dancing and acting ability. I wasn’t sure why some of them were not chosen to play leads. Frank N. Furter really overdid the gay stereotype. It seemed like every other line was ended with him shrugging his shoulders and rolling his eyes. Also Frank was far more muscular than Rocky. He looked like Shaquil O’Neil’s little brother in heels.
Rocky spoke in a German accent. The accent came and went. There was no obvious reason for the accent. It seemed to be a tribute to SNL’s “Hans and Frans”.
Riff and Magenta both did a great job. Magenta wasn’t really showcased much, which is a shame because she had a great voice. Riff had a great sinister quality about him.
Columbia had real potential. She stood out amongst the other cast members. She had a strong voice. My one complaint is that she seemed to copy a little too much from Ana Gasteyer’s portrayal of Columbia from the Broadway revival. Even Columbia’s “it’s a gas” speech was the same. It was almost word for word the same right down to the ad lib at the end. I would be led to believe that someone had a bootleg of the Broadway show to study for those lines, since they are not in the script.
Eddie was a female-again styled after the broadway show; however, Lea Delaria could actually pull it off in a convincing manner.
Janet’s singing voice wasn’t quite on target. Some of her notes were off. She didn’t really seem believable-the cast as a whole overacted but I noticed her more than the others.
Brad was my favorite of the leads. He was corny but in a naïve Brad kind of way. His voice was strong and his acting though extreme wasn’t over the top.
Criminologist/Dr. Scott were played by the same actor (an unusual twist). As criminologist I was not very fond of the actor. He took several liberties with the script. In his Denton Affair book he had a page devoted to the show’s sponsers-pretty funny stuff. As Dr. Scott I really enjoyed him. I realized after seeing his Dr. Scott that he was just playing the criminologist as a pervert. His accent was great.
I think the biggest let down of the show was the overall look. I am an art teacher by day so design principles/elements really catch my attention. Although the set looked pretty flashy at first it was then and only then. There were no real set changes after it started. The only differences were a couple of ugly sheets and a couple of rolling theater chairs. The costumes left a lot to be desired. They looked like a bunch of strippers, and not in a good way. There was very little in the line of variety. Most of the costumes were black. It was hard to pick the leads out of the crowd. One of the worst elements of the show (no pun intended) was lighting. The person running the spot couldn’t keep up with the actors. The spots were not opened up enough to see much more than the actor’s face and shoulders. If this were the first night I could understand this happening but this was the last weekend of the show, the kinks should have been worked out already.
One of the strangest things about this production was the way it strayed from the script. First the Criminologist made a ton of jokes that weren’t even close to being in the actual script. When Eddie came out of the freezer he didn’t even look at Columbia. Also Eddie didn’t have a German accent like Rocky. It just didn’t make sense. The way the story played out it was hard to appreciate Frank at all which defeats the purpose of the story altogether.
One thing I liked was that the dead Eddie’s remains were brought out in a chicken bucket “finger licking good”.
All in all I didn’t feel like I was really watching Rocky. The general feeling was different than what I am used to and the story line though similar had different intentions. I am glad I saw The Rocky Horror Show in Cedar Rapids because it has helped to widen my frame of reference of the play.