“The Rocky Horror Show”

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Caitlin Backholm as Columbia, Rob Minshall as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and Samantha McMahon as Magenta. Photo by Corinne Cameron.

“The Rocky Horror Show” opened last weekend, and runs through November 2, with performances Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, and special midnight shows on Halloween, Thursday, October 31, and on November 2. Tickets are $18. The theater is at 3065 Cranberry Highway in Wareham. For more information, and participation guidelines, visit buzzardsplayproductions.com

I smiled just walking into the funky, old warehouse of a theater where Buzzards Play Productions’ “The Rocky Horror Show” is playing. It’s a perfect setting for this outrageous cult classic, spacious and intimate at the same time, and rustic enough to survive multiple peltings of rice, confetti, rain, and playing cards during the show. The darkly decadent but glittery Phantoms were already milling about, giving a hint of the wacky fun to come.

The show is uniquely entertaining—its vivid characters, lively music, colorful costumes, and steamy light-hearted indecency give it a very infectious, energetic quality that sweeps you into the action. You’ll want to dance to the “Time Warp”—even if you are a Rocky Horror Show virgin and don’t know quite what is going on.

Director Corinne Cameron has made it easy for everyone to enjoy this perennial favorite to the fullest. She has rounded up a talented cast, including her husband, Rob Minshall, who is fabulous as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and a sizzling pit band. She provides the audience with guidelines for audience interaction and she offers paper bags full of necessary items, such as rice, confetti, etc., that may be purchased for $2.

There are fine-mist spray bottles tethered to some of the chairs, and I confess I grabbed one of those seats. Better to be in charge of the water bottle than cowering under a newspaper in the rain! But, don’t worry, it is a delicate spray, and sheets of newspaper are provided in the goodie bag.

“The Rocky Horror Show,” which premiered in London in 1973, is a musical spoof on bad science fiction/horror movies of the time. It follows a young couple, Brad and Janet, who find themselves, one dark and stormy night, at the home of the mad transvestite scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter, his band of conspirators, and his latest creation, a muscular blond named Rocky.

Samantha McMahon opens the show as the Usherette, singing a campy “Science Fiction Double Feature.” She also appears later as Magenta, the maid, and does a fine job with both roles.

Ian Rubinstein is Brad Majors, and Suzanne Johnson is Janet Weiss, both engagingly square as the hapless and uptight couple. Brad proposes to Janet early on in the memorable “Dammit Janet,” always an audience favorite, especially as it is followed by an extended rainstorm.

Miller is wonderful as the narrator, a great combination of Alfred Hitchcock and a cackling witch with an evil laugh. His exaggerated reactions to the sounds of thunder elevate the spookiness—and the humor—of the scene. Brad and Janet would have to ignore their trepidations about the strange house and its inhabitants, he intones, and “take advantage of whatever help was offered.”

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Robert Minshall as Frank and Ian Rubinstein as Brad. Photo by Kevin Ham of Force 4 Photography.

Not much is offered in the way of help, as Dr. Frank-N-Furter proceeds to take advantage of Brad and Janet for his own amusement, and ours.

Riff Raff (Evan Tomascik), Columbia (Caitlin Backholm), and Magenta lead “The Time Warp,” one of the show’s highlights, with relish, enticing much of the audience to join in. Backholm shows off her considerable dancing skills well.

Minshall is terrific as Frank, eliciting screams of approval from the crowd. A tall man, he towers over the others in his high platform heels and wears his skimpy costume well. He is gorgeous in his makeup and hilarious in his suggestive scenes, taking on the role with enthusiasm, from his first saunter out onto the stage to his amazing high note at the end.

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Jesse Romano as Rocky, with Rob Minshall as Frank. Photo by Kevin Ham of Force 4 Photography.

Jesse Romano is a natural as the pure and virginal Rocky, Frank’s “breakthrough in biochemical research,” and Bobby Generau is entertaining in his dual role as Eddie (Frank’s former lover) and Eddie’s father, Dr. Scott, a wheelchair-bound scientist with a big booming singing voice.

The Phantoms, who sing and dance and support the leads, are played by April Womble, Jaquelyn Hyde, Manny Moitoso, and Meghan Sullivan.

The choreography, by director Cameron and Caitlin Backholm, is bright and appealing, fitting the absurdity of the play and the limitations of the stage. Cameron makes good use of a screen on stage to play video and allow some silhouetted seductions.

Music director/pianist Kevin Quill and his band are excellent throughout, setting the mood, supporting the action, and compelling us to dance. The singers started out strong, but could not always be easily heard over the instruments in Friday evening’s show, but this did not detract from the delivery, as most people knew the words and were obviously enjoying the music.

The costumes, by Pat Farrell and Cameron, perfect for this community theater show—theatrical in black and white, but not overly revealing. The set, designed by Chele Maurer, is minimalist, but appropriate.

The cast of “The Rocky Horror Show” is clearly having just as much fun as the audience. Don’t miss this very entertaining show. Yes, it is in Wareham, about a half hour from Falmouth, but it is worth the trip, especially during Halloween week.

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