CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL /
Rachel Heller, left, and Donna Bebber were ready with their props Wednesday for the "Rocky Horror Show."
Randy ‘Rocky’ romps ‘n’ rolls
Props, choreography and fans help, but it's Tony Young's "Show"
Manoa Valley Theatre's production of "Rocky Horror Show" -- the original stage version of Richard O'Brien's sci-fi classic -- is a great night out for anyone ready for raucous interactive musical theater.
'Rocky Horror Show'
» On stage: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (except July 4) and 4 p.m. Sundays, through July 27. Also at 7:30 p.m. July 8.
» Place: Manoa Valley Theatre, 2833 E. Manoa Road
» Tickets: $20 to $35; includes one drink
» Call: 988-6131 or visit www.manoatheatre.com
Tony Young (Dr. Frank N. Furter) looks more feminine and less creepy than Tim Curry in the 1975 film version of the play, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," which became a beloved cult hit. But Young owns the show from the first bars of "Sweet Transvestite." Young struts his stuff in a career-best performance as actor, singer and dancer playing the self-styled "transsexual transvestite."
Mike Dupre (Brad) and Sophia Nelson (Janet) surpass expectations as the virginal protagonists. Dupre maintains a geeky dignity despite spending most of the show wearing only white briefs and nerdish glasses. Nelson is equally at home performing in bra and panties, and captures every dramatic facet of Janet's evolution from virgin to victim to sexual predator.
Other performances are impressive as well.
James Sigman (Riff Raff) is energetic and appropriately sinister as the hunchbacked "handyman." John Tolentino (Rocky) transcends ethnicity with a touching performance as Frank N. Furter's blond boy-toy creation. Greg Howell is excellent as the Narrator.
"Virgins" (fans' term for first-timers) quickly discovered on opening night that the show includes loud and sometimes raunchy audience participation. Howell was greeted with jeers of "Boring!" and "Where's your neck?" (a reference to the Narrator's posture). Nelson and Dupre came onstage to words unfit for a family newspaper.
MVT is selling a $5 bag of props that's a good buy. It includes a reasonable amount of confetti and toilet paper, a sturdy latex glove and a glow stick that's an improvement over the traditional cigarette lighter -- all items used or tossed during the production. There should be more than two playing cards, though.
The opening-night crowd was fortunate to have director Jerry Tracy on one side of the theater and longtime "Rocky Horror" fan Rachel Funk Heller on the other. Their well-timed ab libs quickly inspired others to participate.
Howell worked the crowd perfectly as he narrated, sometimes waiting a beat to give the crowd time to respond, sometimes holding his next line until the yelling stopped. Young also took that extra step in responding to the crowd's input.
M.J. Matsushita's set is beautiful, but MVT's cabaret seating is problematic as usual. Relatively few seats have a good view of everything, and much of the audience will miss Beth Barry's portrayal of wheelchair-bound Dr. Everett Scott. On the other hand, director Tracy's decision to re-gender Scott as a woman with a pseudo-Germanic accent is questionable anyway.
Re-gendering Eddie from a burly biker to a slender denim-clad woman is worse. The gender change throws several character relationships out of sync.
Another weak spot: Pomai Lopez (Usherette/Magenta) mugs so excessively through "Science Fiction Double Feature" that the clever lyric images become secondary to the Usherette's facial contortions. Lopez redeems herself with her portrayal of Magenta.
Katherine Jones' choreography makes "Time Warp" and "Floor Show" the expansive dramatic moments they should be. Janine Myers (lighting), Karen Wolfe (costumes) and Greg Howell (hair and makeup) also deserve mention for giving MVT's "Rocky" its delightfully decadent ambience.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL /
Taylor Divine, left, and Kimiko Shawn were among those in the opening-night crowd who showed up in costume to see the show.