Omaha Nebraska October 2001
This makes the seventh production of The Rocky Horror Show that I have seen. I am always curious walking into a theater if it will ever get old, and become boring to me. Once again, the answer is a resounding no. Downtown Omaha is an interesting area. There are tons of buildings and cars everywhere but I am not sure where all the people are. We did see quite a few, but it still seemed oddly disproportionate. The first thing we notice upon arriving outside the theater is the huge painted front windows. On the windows there were assorted images, mostly from the play. Most notable was a note from Jesus which read "You are all going to hell". The lobby is pretty much just the lobby of the whole building in which the theater is located, the upper floors being apartments. Needless to say this made for fun people watching as patrons entered and waited.
The theater space itself was well suited for Rocky. It is a small theater. The stage is flanked by small side-stage platforms. The main part of the stage jutted out into the audience with a round platform at the end. On the right side of the stage was Frank's lab. It was white tile and had some great plasma lightning fixtures for that mad scientist look. To the left of the state was the Criminologist's stoop. It was done in rustic colors and fabrics. It looked very much like something I would see at my grandmother's house. There was a stairway that lowered from the bandstand in the balcony. Frank entered using this stairway and Riff and Magenta also used it. The phantoms came out to work the audience as it filed in. This was very reminiscent of the Broadway show, and the similarity didn't stop there. During this time there was a variety of music playing. The phantoms went from dancing slow and seductively to very upbeat. They used their usher flashlights to create a rave atmosphere. The director came out and danced with the phantoms during this time too.
It became clear that musically the show was based very much on the Broadway Revival. I was in heaven. I own almost every major cast recording and I have to say the Broadway show is my favorite, the musical arrangements are wonderful. The show starts with an intro like the Broadway show including the "R-o-c-k-y" chant. There were two usherettes for Science Fiction Double Feature. There was a screen center stage for the wedding scene and Brad and Janet's silhouettes could be seen behind it before they came out to do Damn It, Janet. The phantom's watched from benches at the rounded platform at the end of the stage singing backup. Costumes were great. Frank had a Queen Nefertiti type of cape and head dress for Sweet Transvestite that was thrown off to reveal a red lingerie outfit. His costumes were my favorite. He also had a great shiny green lab coat with an adorable nurse's hat. For the floorshow he had this sort of Diana Ross disco sort of look with a beautiful afro and long flowing parachute type dress that the cast could crawl around underneath. Riff, Magenta, and Rocky were somewhat traditional. Riff had the typical butler suit with a 80s rock star hairstyle. For the take over scene Riff and Magenta changed it up a little, wearing seran wrap (on the last performance it was bubble wrap). At this point Riff had taken off his wig to reveal a shaved head and Magenta had a giant tower of hair wrapped in the seran wrap. Columbia had a fun contemporary look that revealed some tattoos. Eddie's costume was very similar to the Broadway revivals. Other cast members were very traditional except the phantoms that wore PVC, leather, vinyl, and glitter.
The story line didn't change much at all. It followed the script closely. When the show is done well, like this one was, it doesn't need a lot of changes. One thing I really enjoyed was the use of a screen. In the Broadway show a screen is used to show video footage relating to and interacting with the story. This effect is too complicated and expensive for many smaller theaters. For this show they used the screen to make a shadow play type monitor. For Dr. Scott's entrance he could be seen on the screen, it was obvious that it was a cardboard cutout of him rocking back and forth and it looked perfect! On the last night the cast took several liberties. One of the phantoms was behind the screen with Dr. Scott; it looked as though she was giving him a little oral action. During Once In A While Brad sings to Janet's shadow on the screen. As he turns around and continues to sing 3 or 4 Janet figures come out dancing behind him. During the course of the song they are revealed to be boys. This again was similar to the Broadway show. As the song ended the "Janet's" leave the stage and Brad looks to the screen to sing the last line. On the screen is one of the Janet's dancing very effeminately away. The effect was hysterical.This show was excellent and well worth the three hour drive to Omaha. We saw it a few times including Halloween night. The cast and crew were amazing and very kind to us. The show is being performed again October 2002; you can bet Play It Again Rocky will be there to show our support.