Dartmouth's ‘Rocky Horror Show' is campy delight

by annie zhang | 11/15/09 11:00pm

by Sam Purcell and Sam Purcell / The Dartmouth

A few seasoned veterans of "Rocky Horror" in the audience, it must be noted, did garner laughs by shouting "asshole" and "slut" when two characters introduced themselves.

"Throwing objects at the stage is prohibited," according to the program notes. "Singing, dancing and cross-dressing are encouraged."

Friday night's performance inspired a few audience members to dress up. Visible in the crowd was one girl dressed in a fluorescent pink wig, sparkled black boa and thigh-high tights. Also present were a middle-aged man in pearls and a woman nonchalantly wearing a blood-stained surgical mask.

"Rocky Horror" first staged in London in 1973 and later used as the source material for the cult film "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (1975) focuses on Brad and Janet, a stereotypically wholesome couple, and Dr. Frank 'N Furter, a "sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania," according to the program notes.

When their car breaks down on a stormy night, Brad and Janet are forced to seek refuge in Furter's castle, a psychedelic wonderland of sexuality and space aliens.

Brad and Janet have arrived just in time to witness Furter unveil his creation Rocky Horror a muscled blond who embodies Furter's ideal of the perfect man.

The "Rocky" plot is as hilarious as it is absurd, but its campy irrationality is exactly what makes it an unforgettably enjoyable experience.

Chiara Klein '10 shone as Magenta, the castle's maid. Max Hunter '13 embodied slithery creepiness as Riff Raff, Furter's bald assistant. A cast of backup singers and dancers, known as the Transylvanians, enlivened every musical number with their spectacular choreography and perfectly synchronized pelvic thrusts.

Jay Markson '10 and Talene Monahon '13, playing Brad and Janet, respectively, displayed impressive vocal ranges and gave spot-on portrayals of kitschy 1970s lovebirds.

The appearance of David Mavricos '10 as Furter, a towering transsexual gently descending from the sky, clad in over-the-knee leather boots and a ridiculously flamboyant white fleather cloak, was greeted with cheers and applause from the audience of students, staff and community members.

Mavricos' impressive ability to stomp around in three inch heels was matched only by his dedication to the character of Furter. Every hair flip, flounce and sexual caress was convincingly in character.

Performances by Stewart Towle '12 as Dr. Scott, Stephen Jangro '11 as Rocky and Genevieve Adams '11 as Columbia, were all hilarious and perfectly complementary to the atmosphere of the play.

Professor James Rice of the theater department served as the narrator.

Dressed to the nines in pink glasses, a green boa and white strappy heels, Rice's dramatic narrative voice provided an entertaining and novel backdrop for the show.

The obvious passion and excitement of the cast and crew created a feeling of camaraderie and earnest delight that pervaded throughout the performance on Friday night.

During intermission, a shirtless Transylvanian wearing a stag's head interacted with the audience, while various other Transylvanians danced along the aisles.

The sets utilized in "Rocky" were exceedingly well made and inventive.

From a car made of Transylvanians to a wheelchair decorated with a single pineapple, each prop was detailed and suited to the overall mood of the show.

One of the most memorable props was a set of large double doors that symbolized the doors of Furter's castle. Each door was decorated with holes, through which various lights shone, creating a sense of disorientation and imbalance that further heightened the surrealism of Furter's world.

"The Rocky Horror Show" was a singularly enjoyable experience and made it clear why it has become the cultural phenomenon it is today.

There will be four additional performances of "Rocky Horror" on Nov. 19 through Nov. 22 in the Moore Theater.