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"The Rocky Horror Show," October 7 - November 5, Trustus Theatre, 254-9732.
"Ain't Misbehavin'," October 20-30, Sumter Little Theatre, 775-2150.
"Cosi," November 11-19, USC Longstreet Theatre, 777-5208.
"Almost, Maine," November 17-20, USC Lab Theatre, 777-5208.
"A Christmas Carol, the Musical," December 1-18, Town Theatre, 799-2510.
"A Christmas Story," December 1-11, Sumter Little Theatre, 775-2150.
"'Twas the Night...," December 2-10, On Stage Productions, 351-6751.
"Deck the Halls With Chardonnay," December 2-11, Chapin Theatre Company, 240-8544.
"The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical," December 2-17, Trustus Theatre, 254-9732.
"You Can't Take it With You," January 20 - February 5, Town Theatre, 799-2510.
" Boy," January 13-21, Trustus Side Door Theatre, 254-9732.
Press Releases for Current Shows
Camden Community Theatre
Chapin Theatre Company
Columbia Children's Theatre
On Stage Productions
Ritz Theatre of Newberry
SC Shakespeare Company
Sumter Little Theatre
Village Square Theatre
Trustus Revival of Campy Cult Classic “The Rocky Horror Show” Still Has Relevant Message: Don't Dream It, Be It
Review by August Krickel
It's astounding that The Rocky Horror Show, Richard O'Brien's kinky, campy, musical spoof of sci-fi films, ran for over seven years in London, winning the 1973 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Musical. Time is fleeting - Trustus Theatre's production runs through November 5, and for the first time, Scott Blanks, the lead actor in the last five Trustus incarnations, has traded in his fishnets and stiletto heels for the director's chair, while Chris Cockrell, his faithful handyman Riff Raff in previous years, steps in as music director. Madness takes its toll, or seems to, if you've never experienced this cult classic, as audience members heckle the cast in unison, throw confetti and toilet paper at the stage, and spray each other with squirt guns. Listen closely, not for very much longer: I've got to keep control of my fan-boy's love of the material, and explain how - and why - one might enjoy such seemingly quirky and lightweight fare.
I remember doing the "Time Warp" - the
show's audience participation dance which
features a jump to the left, a step to the right, and a pelvic thrust
that will really drive you insa-a-a-ane - drinking those moments when my
teenage friends and I were able to sneak a few mini-bottles into the
old Bush River Cinema for midnight showings
of the 1975 screen adaptation with Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon. This
became a rite of passage for college kids across America; if you knew
Rocky Horror, you were part of a hip, subversive, sexy
sub-culture that cosplayed before cosplaying was cool. Shy or
self-conscious gals could strut their stuff in lingerie, and guys who
might or might not be out of the closet could dress in drag without
fear. Even geeky straight guys who did theater like me were welcome to
tag along, since every group needed a Brad or Dr. Scott. And if someone
played the soundtrack - from which I've been quoting liberally above
- at a cast party, the blackness would hit us,
the void would be calling, and we would indeed do the "Time Warp"
again. In short, the show is all about the shared experience. Newcomers
to the phenomenon will catch on quickly that the plot and stylized
acting are intended as parody, that the non-stop sexual
references are meant as titillating yet harmless fun, and that audience
participation is a live, ritualistic variation on the wisecracks later
Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Everyone's voice is superb.
Man-of-a-thousand-voices Hazin channels O'Brien's
flat, nasal delivery, incorporating his own physicality and athleticism
with a chaotic lurching gait in lieu of an actual hunchback, and he
swings down onto the stage from a stripper pole like a pro. Leitner adds
her lush vocals to the prologue in the guise
of an Usherette, then slinks seductively through successive scenes as
Magenta. Cahill is perky and amusing as Columbia, while Lovell and
Trustus newcomer Lyles are perfect as the white bread innocents. Lovell,
appealing in recent Trustus shows like
Peter and the Starcatcher and American Idiot, gets to sing
a pretty ballad, "Once in a While," which was cut from the popular
film, and is given excellent backing by the male ensemble. Lyles also
hits some beautiful notes, and glides across stage
with a dancer's grace.
Few in the Midlands know Rocky Horror more intimately than Blanks, who has crafted a slick, polished, Vegas-style production of a famously low-budget, hard-rocking, guilty pleasure. You'll absolutely enjoy nearly two hours of toe-tapping tunes from great singers. Yet much of the subtlety (in a famously unsubtle piece) felt lost in the performers' rush to get to each well-known musical number in succession so that they might then rock the house. There's not a lot of expository dialogue between songs, making every word and glance crucial for the plot, however silly that plot might be. In that opening number, for example, I'm not sure how many in the audience caught references to specific sci-fi films and actors (Flash Gordon, Claude Rains, Forbidden Planet, etc.) although I'm sure they loved the cute usherette costume and wig, and the unexpected entrance from the rear of the house. Nor am I convinced if too many picked up on how the titular Rocky was created, i.e. using part of the brain from ill-fated delivery boy Eddie (Percy Saint Cyprian.) Or that the lyrics of "I Can Make You A Man" are a devastatingly witty satire of old Charles Atlas bodybuilding ads, grafted onto the premise of a Frankenstein-like creation. Or that Riff and Magenta really don't like Frank, and are planning mutiny. Or that the ensemble's matching wigs and attire, cast aside in the finale, may imply they are not just party guests but rather victims of Frank's mind-control. On the other hand, a music-free scene of comedy was well-received by the opening night audience as Frank seduces first Janet and then Brad, aided by a terrific effect creating the sense of an overhead view of a bedroom. Similarly, Leitner got a huge laugh when, in character, she glared daggers at an unexpected ad-lib from the audience. Moments of spontaneity like that serve to support the free-form nature of the material, which is written more cleverly than one might realize.
Possibly, at 43, Rocky Horror has simply grown up and entered the Broadway canon, appealing now to a mainstream audience who enjoy the catchy show tunes, and dutifully purchase their bags of participation props, turning then to their programs for guidance on where and when to spontaneously shout the accepted callbacks. Or alternatively, perhaps the naughty little musical has become a greater cultural phenomenon, much like a Carolina game where one dresses in garnet and black, applies Gamecock logos to one's cheek, cheers at the 2001 theme, and whirls something in the air when "Sandstorm" is played...but may or may not actually follow all the action on the field. In any event, Trustus undoubtedly has a hit on their hands, and a great mainstage season opener. It's worth remembering, however, however, that 43 years ago, it wasn't nearly as safe or acceptable to root for a "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania," and that the play's message of "don't dream it, be it" is a self-fulfilling testimony to how far as a society we have come. For ticket information, visit http://www.trustus.org, or call 803-254-9732.
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