I knew what I was getting into as I bought my tickets at the Warner box office to the early show (and practically sold out) of The Rocky Horror Show at the Nancy Marine Studio Theatre in Torrington. I have never had my bag searched before entering the theatre and some of the other patrons were definitely dressed for the occasion. White bags of supplies were for sale in the lobby and were selling like hotcakes. It was definitely not the usual crowd that packed the studio theatre, but the loud patrons definitely came for a good time.
John Bonanni did his usual announce in a most unusual way, assisted by the costumed "Phantoms." He describes this show in his letter:
"We took the unintentional humor of B horror movies, threw in a barely serviceable script that mirrored schlock-horror, added muscle flicks and fifties rock and roll and claimed a new Halloween spectacular in the form of The Rocky Horror Show. And here we are again, playing host to that sweet transvestite in the weird wardrobe. A night to remember..."
Rocky Horror definitely has many loyal fans. I wouldn't count myself among them, mostly because I don't appreciate science fiction as much as my companion, but it was payback time for all the shows that I have dragged him to that were not his first choice. He loved every minute of Rocky Horror.
Although I didn't follow every nuance of the plot and certainly could not make out every retort shouted out by the die hard fans in the audience, I got caught up in the party atmosphere of this show. Director Dan Checovetes did not want to just recreate the movie or the staged version, so this is the artistic team's own take on this story with all the expected aspects still intact. He and this very talented cast succeeded in that goal.
The music by the playwright Richard O'Brien is fun and was performed expertly by the band aka "Vinyl Vortex" directed by E. Karl Gallmeyer. Three backup singers helped out the onstage vocalists. I had heard that the choreographer Jennifer Clark Mazzeo had never seen the show when she came up with the challenging dance moves. The cast members kept up anyway. The set designed by Mr. Checovetes was interesting and featured video segments produced by himself and the talented Sharon A. Wilcox. The fine props featured the wonderful stiletto chair owned by the Phoenix Stage. That weird wardrobe by Aurora Montenero assisted by Rene C. Purdy was quite amazing and the lighting by Nathan Bourke impressive.
The cast of unique characters are played by many a theatre vet to the hilt. Stephanie J. Varanelli Miles as one of the Usheretttes and Magenta is strong of voice and stage presence, as is Jamie M. Weisberg as "Columbia." The young couple "Brad" and "Janet" are played by the very brave Frank Beaudry and Katie Brunetto, who spend half the show in their underclothes or less. The deep voice of Mario Barboza is perfect for the "Narrator, and Keith Leonhardt is a scary good "Riff Raff." The normally brunette Alec Varcas is a buff blonde Rocky and sparkles in every way. Brian D. Fortin is a formidible Frank-n-Furter in platform heels and amazing costumes rivaled only by those of the young Phantoms in the chorus.
Finally, the gifted comedic actor Christopher Kulmann plays the dual role of "Eddie/Dr. Scott." As I spoke with him after the early show, he told me that he had to go remove the second act makeup before the midnight show. How this cast could get up the energy to do it all again in the middle of the night is a testament to their dedication.