The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a child of the 1970’s with the play first produced in London’s West End in 1973, Broadway in 1975 (three previews, 45 shows) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show starring Tim Curry (Frank-N-Furter), Susan Sarandon (Janet) and Barry Bostwick (Brad). The film has achieved cult status and the play is a lingering tradition.
On one level The Rocky Horror Show is a tribute to science fiction movies of a time gone by backed by rock and roll music. At another level it reflects the development of sexual diversity in the 1970s. Today it survives as a tribute to gender-bending sexual variety.
It is Woodstock with a twist, Jackson Pollock and/or Salvador Dali set to music, a fractured version of Frankenstein. Its signature song is The Time Warp and its message is “don’t dream it, be it.”
CenterStages’ version is dominated by Mike Fryman as Frank-N-Furter, a pansexual creator of Rocky Horror, a white bread version of Frankenstein’s monster played in All-American form by Kiel Dodd. Fryman’s voice is powerful, overwhelming really, in songs like I Can Make You a Man and poignantly sweet in I’m Going Home. Brian Bowles, Riff Raff, provides a long, twisted contrast to the short, hunch-backed Igor, a snapshot of the play itself.
The Sunday evening when I attended saw the audience participating at will, many with bags of props and cued responses which added to the fun where audience merged with the actors to create an illusion of limitless possibility.
The Rocky Horror Show is rude and crude and the audience seemed to love it. It is an abstract bending of gender, a mash-up of old horror films with a signpost pointing to 2016 and beyond. You should try it at least once.
It’s also time to get your season tickets for next year. The season starts in July with West Side Story and also includes Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Assassins, Funny Girl, Disney’s Mary Poppins and Sondheim on Sondheim. There are five- and six-show options. Tickets are available online at jewishlouisville.org/centerstage or by calling 502-238-2709.