Springfield Missouri October 2010
Tuesday, October 5th Play It Again Rocky had the great opportunity to see a dress rehearsal of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show at the Vandivort Theater in Springfield, Missouri. Normally, I don’t have time to write and post a review of the show until it is over. However, with the new site, it is much easier to do. Not to mention much easier to upload digital pictures rather than developing/scanning and all that jazz. Quite a bit of time has now passed so I feel like I can add details of the interesting bits that I most enjoyed during the show.
When I go to a show I tend to notice the overall look of the show (set, lighting, costumes). I notice the music and singing. And I notice the acting and dancing. This production was very strong on all counts. The show’s most notable influence was the most recent Eurotour, but it still stayed true to the script.
Overall the show looked very slick. The set seemed complete. It was well balanced and didn’t have a lot of extra stuff to get in the way. It was basically a set of red velvet curtains with a white curtain in the middle. On stage right was a spiral staircase that led up to the band above the curtains. On stage left was a fireman pole. Far stage left was the Criminologist's perch. The lighting was appropriate for the show. It wasn’t too dark to take pictures (which is what I am usually concerned with) or too bright to wash out the cast and destroy the mood. The costumes were somewhat traditional with the exception of Riff and Magenta’s. They looked far more alien than usual. They both wore gloves with really long fingers that added to the illusion. Their makeup had a bit of a zombie feel to it with the sunken cheeks and dark eyes. Magenta’s exaggerated maid tutu also helped create an unusual look.
Musically, the show used somewhat modern versions of the songs. Science Fiction was from the Eurotour and Time Warp was similar to the Broadway revival. The band played very well and the singing overall was quite good. Ryan King and Erin Routh (Brad and Janet respectively) sang exceptionally well.
Acting and dancing were in line with the singing. I especially enjoyed Bethany Ziskind as Magenta. She was very believable and fun to watch. Ryan King (Brad), Jodi Watson (Columbia), and Sarah Skelton-Hillhouse (Narrator) are all worth noting. Brooke Stephens' transition between Eddie/Dr. Scott was unbelievable. I was sure it was two different actors.
Director Nathan Shelton did an exceptional job with the show. He managed to stay true to the original story and its intent and added a few interesting twists to keep the show exciting for those of us who have seen it many times. Right off the bat, as the Usherette is singing the opening song, we see Frank in silhouette watching a screen with his back to the audience. To me this reads as Frank watching the control screen of the space ship as we see them approaching Earth on the screen. Riff approaches in the background and Frank quickly dismisses him, which immediately starts to build the conflict between the two. I thoroughly enjoyed the blood splattered sheet over Rocky’s body during Sword of Damocles. It was a small touch that added a great deal of visual appeal and helped reinforce the Frankenstein’s monster parallel. When Eddie enters for Hot Patootie he rolls right out from under the gurney that Rocky was born from, it seemed fitting as the bodies would be in close proximity for the brain (or half a brain) transplant. One of my favorite humorous moments happens when Frank goes off stage to get a weapon to kill Eddie. He comes on with a hacksaw first and progresses through a few other weapons including a dildo before settling on a pick axe. As he chases Eddie out of the auditorium we all get to watch on the monitor as he runs out through the lobby. In the lobby Frank and Rick, the artistic director of the Vandivort look each other over before Frank continues on to kill Eddie, in turn splattering blood all over the camera lens. It was masterfully done. Another fantastic video segment can be seen when Janet is looking for Brad on the monitor. As she flips through the channels she stops just in time to see Brad getting rode from behind, as he turns to look at Frank, Frank punches him in the face. It was absolutely hysterical. When Riff and Magenta came out for the takeover scene their alien look was magnified with large stilts and flowing costumes. At the end of Super Heroes as the Narrator sang her last lines Riff came out to her and they performed the Transylvanian handshake and walked off together. As the castle takes off we get to watch it on the video screen and then seen the Earth getting smaller and smaller as the Usherette sings Science Fiction Reprise.
If I had to pick a favorite element from this show I think it would have to be their video sequences. They were done very well and added so much to the overall look of the show. Nathan Shelton did a great job as did the cast. If you didn’t get to see this show you really missed out. Every time I have seen a show at the Vandivort it has been very enjoyable.
Magenta/Usherette: Bethany Ziskind
Janet: Erin Routh
Brad: Ryan King
Narrator: Sarah Skelton-Hillhouse
Riff-Raff: Luke Mills
Columbia: Jodi Watson
Frank: Heath Hillhouse
Rocky: Vince Miller
Eddie/Dr. Scott: Brooke Stephens
Phantom/Janet Swing: Melissa Myers
Swing: Jessica Kelderhouse
Phantoms: Chelsea Russell, Mitch Bonkoski