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Decadent, outrageous and over the top as alwaysBy Andy Argyrakis
"The Rocky Horror Show"
October 17, 2007
With Halloween right around the corner, it can only mean costumes, haunted calamities and mounds of midnight showings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." But just before the cult classic graced (or perhaps more accurately, delightfully disgraced) the silver screen, it was a famed play production on London's West End in 1973, followed by a trip to Broadway in the Big Apple. And from then until now, the musical has been revived on countless occasions all across the globe, often hitting major markets around this time of year to do the "The Time Warp" yet again.
After a four year absence from Chicago, director Steve Hiltebrand is revisiting the multiple generation-spanning Richard O'Brien script, once again telling the outrageous and over the top tale. For the uninitiated, the somewhat thin though enduring plot revolves around the innocent, newly engaged couple Brad and Janet, who are sidelined on a trip to see their former high school teacher by a flat tire. After the blow out, they're forced to flee to a nearby castle in hopes of finding a phone, expect they get tangled up in the sexually liberated and demented dimension of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
During this particular presentation, the gender bending lead was played by an incredibly flamboyant but true to form Scott Alan Jones, who served as ringmaster in the literal orgy of bizarre behavior that eventually transforms the innocuous, stranded couple into similarly scandalous minions. But aside from the odd turn of events raising eyebrows (or boa, as many of the fellas in the front few rows were dressed in drag), the soundtrack was presented in all its extreme and eventful glory.
"The Time Warp" was an obvious crest in the first half, wrapped around its signature and remarkably tight chorography and contagious chorus, while "Hot Patootie (Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?)" also packed nearly as much charisma as Meat Loaf in the movie. Other familiar favorites like "Planet Shmanet Janet" and "Rose Tint My World" also leapt off the stage in the Mercury's intimate confines, while the cast frequently jumped in the crowd for an even closer look (such as Dr. Frank-N-Furter's melodramatic but charmingly comical ballad "I'm Going Home").
The production also benefited from a full-fledged rock n' roll light show, which evoked Queen's "We Will Rock You" on a slightly smaller scale, courtesy of Matthew DeYoung (also known for his concert and DVD work with Dennis DeYoung). And as has been the tradition in musical presentations or film showings, fans came armed with many of the script's key words, costumes and even props. While the resulting mayhem would likely be a troubling turn off for the more conservative minded, the final product lived up loud and proud to its unwavering underground adulation.
"The Rocky Horror Show" runs through Sunday, December 2 at Chicago's Mercury Theater with ticket information available at 773-325-1700 or www.ticketmaster.com.