Kansas City Missouri July 2000
The first production of Rocky that I saw on stage was at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, Missouri. The show was put on my Eubank productions who I have had the great pleasure of become great friends with over the years.
Below you will find the original review posted on the original Play It Again Rocky.Penn Valley July 2000When I first heard that a community college was going to be performing The Rocky Horror Show here in Kansas City I was a little concerned. I knew I had to go, but I wanted my first viewing of the play (believe it or not I had only seen bad bootleg videos) to be a great show. I really didn't know what to expect from local college theatre. With low expectations several other local fans and I went to the show only to be amazed by its greatness.
There were several notable things about the show. The show's most obvious asset was the cast. This group held amazing talent. Usually when I view a play or listen to a cast soundtrack it seems that they work with what they have. This particular group seemed to be cast perfectly. They could ALL sing well. In fact Magenta, Riff-Raff, and Janet had great voices. They took their characters quite seriously. Frank WAS a flamboyant transvestite. Brad and Janet WERE right out of "Leave it to Beaver" and Riff and Magenta WERE sinister underlings gone awry. Rocky was an Adonis and looked like Peter Hinwood wishes he still did. One thing I found quite interesting was that the cast ranged in age from 14 to 23, but this was certainly no testament to their ability.
Revisions of the original script also made this production strong. It seems that over the years there have been several small changes in the play that keep it fresh or at least keep die hard fans on their toes. Expected changes like a condom in the bedroom scene were really no surprise for anyone familiar with the Piccidilly recording. When Frank pulled out a gun however and shot the Criminologist I was quite surprised. I was also surprised when the bloody Criminologist jumped out later to again narrate the story. In this production Eddie died at the end of a chainsaw, which Frank wielded so delicately. By far the funniest change I noticed involved the repetition of the lines "Eddie? What do you know about Eddie Dr. Scott?" After the second (maybe third) time this line came up Frank breaks character to say, "Check your scripts". The cast all pulled out their strategically hidden scripts with the exception of Frank's, which was carried on by a very startled, looking stage hand wearing eye shadow, lipstick, and heels. After this consultation Magenta read "Master! Dinner is prepared!" Then phantoms all chimed in "and I helped!"
Direction was another strength of this production. It was easy to see that the director (Steven Eubank) was a fan of Rocky Horror. Musically he picked different versions of songs from different cast albums creating a hybrid that worked out beautifully. I could hear bits of the Roxy, Piccidilly, Eurotour, New Australian, and even the newer Jason Donovan cast. Besides his choice of music the director also made great use of his actors' skills. Several members of the cast were trained dancers. The phantoms became a show in and of themselves with intricate choreography. "There's a Light" was an amazing umbrella routine. "Wild and Untamed Thing" was a Janet Jackson-esque stomp number. "Super Heroes" utilized two of the phantoms dance skills as they portrayed Adam and Eve in fig leaves doing a sort of interpretive dance in the foreground as Brad, Janet, and the Crim did their parts on a raised platform in the background, eventually being drawn into it.
At the end of the first performance I knew that I would be back the next night. Performance after performance the group improved and worked out several small kinks culminating in a spectacular show. I also knew that when I had the chance to see another cast I would probably be disappointed. I couldn't realistically see many casts doing as great a job as the Penn Valley Community College group.