Theatre Review: The Rocky Horror Show at Bucks County Playhouse

Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show has become a staple at The Bucks County Playhouse.  Year after year, director Hunter Foster restages this cult classic that brings audiences in by the car load.  A night mixed with theatre lovers as well as committed fans of both the movie, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, and the classic musical.

“Time Warp” scene: Trent Saunders, Daisy Wright, Christina Sajous, Zach Cossman, Alyse Alan Louis

I was first introduced to the cult film in the mid-90s.  Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Tim Curry!  A musical theatre gal like myself was in love at first site! During my college years, I attended a midnight showing of the film at a movie house in Allentown.  I was floored at what one film could do.  Audiences at the film would shout-out, throw their popcorn, bring in their own props, and act out the movie along with the film at the same time.  I had never seen anything like it and I loved every minute!

Attending my first live musical performance of The Rocky Horror Show at BCP exceeded my expectations.  The audience is just as much a part of the show as the actors and musicians.  80% of the audience was dressed in their Rocky best, and that means, not nearly dressed at all!  Bustiers, corsettes, fishnets, wigs, eyeliner, and heels galore dressed as their favorite character or as their own variation. Pre-show music broadcasted otherworldly songs like “Zombie”. Each patron is provided with a “prop bag” for audience participation.  (Example: rice to throw during a wedding scene.)

Zach Cossman (Brad Majors) and Alyse Alan Louis (Janet Weiss)

As the story unfolds Brad and Janet, young virgins who have gotten a flat tire and in need of a phone to call for help, stumble upon a castle.  There they are fantastically greeted by a group of phantoms and misfits who are under the spell and creation of Dr. Frank ‘N Furter, a transvestite who unleashes his latest creation the perfect specimen of man named Rocky.

This kitschy story is outlandish, sexually provocative and hilarious!  Zach Cossman (Brad Majors) and Alyse Alan Louis (Janet Weiss) and Mason Alexander Park (Frank ‘N Furter) are expertly cast.  Park’s portrayal is a lovely mix of Tim Curry’s “Frank”, Neil Patrick Harris’s “Hedwig”, and Liza Minnelli “Sally Bowles”. He gives Curry the homage he deserves while making him current and full of heart. Cossman and Louis have the bodies of a “Danny/Sandy” from Grease but the comedic talents of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Tim Rogan (Rocky), Trent Saunders (Riff Raff), and Mason Alexander Park (Frank ‘N Furter)

In Hunter Foster’s reincarnation, if the subject matter doesn’t already redeem itself, it falls very much to the left of the aisle. With some ad-libs and liberties to the script, there is shade thrown at every turn to today’s political administration. With the #metoo movement making headlines, The Rocky Horror Show provided a much-needed escape. Most notably with the character of “Rocky” as played by Tim Rogan. Aside from a terrible wig, everything else about this man’s physique was exquisite and intentionally titillating and his acting and voice were incredible.  Rogan was in on the joke of Rocky’s scantily clad journey, but he was definitely being sexually objectified by the majority of the audience, and that’s the point. It’s often women treated that way in movies and film and why The Rocky Horror Show stands the test of time, or rather, ahead of its time.

Other cast members include Danielle Diniz (Phantom), Christina Sajous (Magenta), Daisy Wright (Columbia), and Alec Irion (Eddie). Michael Thomas Holmes plays the ominous “Narrator” and jovial “Dr. Scott” and Trent Saunders slays the roof off the playhouse with his “Riff-Raff” vocals.

The Rocky Horror Show is not meant to be read or listened to, it’s meant to be experienced…LIVE!  With a mansion foyer sized set by designers David L. Arsenault and Wilson Chin, costumes by Nicole V. Moody, lighting design by Travis McHale, and sound design by Bart Fasbender, music direction from William Shuler, Hunter Foster and choreographer, Lorin Latarro, take you to another planet for a fast paced 90 minutes. I am continually impressed Bucks County Playhouse not only for its impressive productions but also its hospitality.  The Rocky Horror Show continues through October 28th with varying times.

If there was ever a time to make a visit to New Hope, now is the time.  The fall weather is perfect.  There are restaurants lining up the street.  With special late night shows on Friday and Saturday you can certainly enjoy a perfect night out!

Review cross-posted with permission from Broadway World- Philadelphia.


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