By DAVE DELUCA - For the Star Beacon
Mention “The Rocky Horror Show” and almost everyone has an opinion, whether they've seen the movie or stage adaptation or not. It has been a cult classic for over three decades, since its release in 1975, and it has garnered plenty of criticism and negative commentary. Because public reaction to this extremely odd piece of musical comedy has been so strong for so long, many with an opinion have never even seen the movie or play. And many certainly do not understand that it is a spoof of shock theater. Yet they continue to berate the show as immoral and lewd.
Now this once underground shock-rock comedy is transgenerational, with parents and children attending the show dressed to the hilt as “The Rocky Horror Show” characters. In the Ashtabula Arts Center's G.B. Community Theatre production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” there's a “participation” seating section for the audience, in which fans of the show get to heckle, interject lines and even throw toilet paper at the performers. There is no doubt this show has a reputation for weirdness and raucous performance.
About 30 people attended a recent matinee, and the denizens of the evil villain Dr. Frankenfurter were definitely in the house. They shouted and applauded at inappropriate times, and tried to make life miserable for the performers. And it was fun. The fun is what makes a performance of this camp classic worth seeing. This is the case in the Ashtabula Arts Center's G.B. Community Theatre production.
This is a musical comedy with strong adult themes and content. Basically it chronicles an evening in the life of a young couple about to be married. Their car has a flat tire and they seek refuge in a nearby castle. The inhabitants of the castle are mutant creations of the evil Dr. Frankenfurter, a perverted arch villain from outer space. Dr. Frankenfurter is ultimately undone, but not before he has his way with both the hero and heroine, and a score of great rock and roll songs are sung and performed with great choreography.
Some great performances are played by Emily Baker as Magenta, Jacob Emerson as Rocky, Josh Maker as Dr. Frankenfurter, Brittany Minor as Janet Weiss, Fred Robsel as the Narrator, Devon Shriver as Columbia, Tywan Jackson as Professor Scott, Tristan Kyle as Brad Majors and Jayson Gage as Riff Raff. Everyone in the cast played their parts at the highest level, with difficult choreography and hefty singing parts to make it a challenging task. They succeeded in making it a great show.
The production was directed by Marti Milliken Dixon. Music Director was Debra Fleming, with Light Design by Mike Brenneman and Set Design by Ray Beach. A great studio band brought the songs to life perfectly, and the singing was terrific.
Regardless of your opinion of transgender confusion, of villains in drag, or sexual misbehavior, the Ashtabula Arts Center's G.B. Community Theatre production is funny, well performed and worth seeing. To enjoy the full impact of this strange production, see it on a Friday or Saturday evening, when there is usually a full house.
The favorite cult classic “The Rocky Horror Show” will continue its three-weekend run on the G. B. Community Theatre stage Oct. 11, 12, 13, 18, and 19. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m. Sunday shows begin at 2 p.m.
The musical has developed a cult following with audience members dressing up as their favorite characters and bringing props, singing along to favorite songs and dancing in their seats. Open flames are prohibited. Rice, newspapers, flashlights, toilet paper, confetti, dry toast, party hats, bells, cards, and hot dogs are all acceptable props. There are two seating sections at the G.B. Community Theatre production. One is for those wanting to be in on all the action and another for those just wanting to watch. Please specify your seating choice when you order your tickets.
“The Rocky Horror Show” is not intended for children and contains material that may offend some people.
Tickets for “The Rocky Horror Show” are now on sale for $14 adults, $12 Seniors and Students. Or you can save $2 per ticket by purchasing tickets in advance. Advance sale tickets must be purchased before 4 p.m. on the day of the show or by 1 p.m. on Saturday for Saturday and Sunday performances. Tickets can be purchased over the phone with a credit card by calling (440) 964-3396 or can be purchase with cash, check or credit card at the Ashtabula Arts Center’s box office during regular business hours.