Springfield Illinois October 2010
The second stop on the Play It Again Rocky Halloween weekend of goodness was Springfield, IL. Our choices for Halloween weekend were a little last-minute. I really couldn’t decide between a few shows and I was being a little conservative with spending. When I saw the promotional photos from this show it really won me over. The poster design was also a major factor. I really enjoy that they took some chances. The trip was great, we were already in St. Louis so we didn’t have to go much further to get there. We got there late Friday night so we’d be there for both of Saturday’s shows. Our hotel was “questionable” but otherwise it was a great little trip.
When we got up Saturday morning we went down to the downtown area to check out where the show was. The theatre was pretty big. If you’ve read my other reviews, you know that I usually don’t enjoy that. I was a little worried. While we were driving around I noticed a Rocky poster in one of the local business windows, so I set out on a mission. Within thirty minutes I had successfully snagged about 6 posters, 3 of each design.
We got to the theatre a little early to check things out. We saw the Usherettes in the lobby and got a picture. Their makeup looked just as cool in person as it did online. Our seats for the first show were a ways back, but that wasn’t really a problem. I wanted to see the show fully before taking any photos during the second show. The theater was just as big on the inside as it appeared from the outside. There was an odd phenomenon at this show. It was huge, so people felt totally at ease to yell audience participation. At the play I always feel like it is necessary to back off a bit and not run over the actors. The way sound was absorbed in this vacuous theater, it kind of worked. The actors seemed to expect total craziness and the audience went nuts. The sound system totally put things in check and you could hear every minute of the show despite the ridiculous crowd.
The show itself was pretty good. There was an odd combination of movie vs. stage show. The principals were all very movie centered both in performance and costume. The phantoms were all very unusual and edgy-I LOVED their look. I can honestly say they were my favorite part of the show. The set was a little plain. The lighting was a really nice club/show look to it. There were times when I enjoyed looking at the audience in the lighting as much as the stage, it was well done. I especially liked the lighting during “Over At the Frankenstein Place.” About half the audience had green glow sticks against a blue(?) cast over the auditorium. It was beautiful. Technically the show was great. Lights, sound, and effects seemed to go off without a hitch. The band was likewise great.
There were a few interesting points. First there were 3 usherettes to back Magenta and then an additional large group of Phantoms. The Phantoms were visually diverse and stunning to look at. All of the principals were very traditional looking and gave pretty solid performances. I especially liked Riff Raff as far as the leads go. He did something that came right out of the movie, but oddly I had never really noticed its importance before. All through the show he walked hunched over. His moves were manic and exaggerated and he really gave off that Igor type vibe. When he and Magenta did their final Transylvanian handshake before taking over at the end he stepped out of his hunched pose into a very tall and confident stride. He was very tall which added to the effect. It really created a turning point for Riff Raff and created empathy for his character. In the movie Richard O’Brien is also standing tall during the takeover scene, but his stature wasn’t nearly as noticeable. Also Richard’s Igor was very mellow where as this Riff looked like he could snap at any moment. It was a very striking performance.
At the top of the show when Brad and Janet are walking to the castle, the many Phantoms are carrying trees around them. This was also a nice effect and it began the Phantom interaction quite nicely. As they approached the castle Riff opened a little window in the door to sing his solo. It was simple, but effective, especially if you hadn’t realized that is where his solo was going to come from, a nice surprise. From the middle of the show on, the show was pretty straight forward. At the end of Hot Patootie Eddie was pushed into a box where Frank swung his pick axe at him as organs flew out in all directions with every swing. Speaking of swings (were we?) during I’m Going Home a swing set was carried onto the stage. It was covered in flowers and Frank swung as he sang. I don’t know if we were the only ones to notice, and I don’t know if it was even intentional but it seemed obvious to me that it was a “wild and untamed swing.” I laughed out loud, but then my sense of humor is a little off. A last interesting touch occurred at the very end of the show. Magenta came out to sing Science Fiction reprise in her Space costume. At first I thought maybe there was some sort of wardrobe malfunction backstage and she couldn’t change fast enough; however, that was not the case. The Narrator came out to join her with a suitcase sporting a bumper sticker that read “Transylvania or Bust.” He picked her up and carried her off. I thought this was an interesting twist.
Between shows I had the great pleasure of meeting John, who played Eddie. I had talked to him a bit before the show via Facebook. I also met the director and got a few pictures of some of the Phantoms. It was great fun and I was thrilled to go back in and do it all over again at the late show with an even CRAZIER audience, and much better seats.