Leave Your Inhibitions at the Door for Inclineâ€™s Rocky Horror Show
Review of by Laurel Humes of The Rocky Horror Show: Incline Theatre
Rocky Horror Show is perfectly cast and musically terrific, with a set, lighting and sound effects the best ever at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater.
Now the content. A discreet sign in the lobby says it all: â€œRocky Horror Show is rated R for sexual humor and some language. If youâ€™re square, donâ€™t go in there.â€
There were apparently no â€˜squaresâ€™ in the opening night audience, because the cast was rewarded with plenty of laughs, applause and in-our-seats dancing during the signature â€œTime Warp,â€ even though it was not an audience participation night.
The lobby warning is appropriate for anyone who wanders in with no prior knowledge of the show or who vaguely remembers when they saw the movie version in the 1970s. The central character is a â€œSweet Transvestiteâ€ surrounded by his clan of pelvis-thrusting, breast-heaving boys and girls. The whole point appears to be sex and, when reality pushes in, a little bit of spray-mist drug that puts everyone back in the mood for sex.
Richard Oâ€™Brien (book, music, lyrics) based his 1973 musical on old sci-fi and horror B movies (he added the sex). The showâ€™s opening number wonderfully sets the stage with a strong solo by Marissa Poole (â€œScience Fiction/Double Featureâ€) as an usherette in a theater showing clips from those movies.
Now weâ€™re ready for the spooky castle (kudos to Brett Bowling for richly detailed design) where cross-dressing mad scientist Dr. Frank-n-Furter presides. What an entrance for actor Matt Krieg! He is lifted from beneath the stage, back to the audience, dressed in a glamorous long robe and heels that add to his natural height.
Krieg lives up to that entrance with a commanding and hilarious performance throughout the show. He strides, he pivots, he preens. He gets laughs from the pretty weak script, especially in the cleverly done back-to-back bed scenes with both halves of a newly-engaged, strait-laced couple. â€œI was saving myself,â€ she says. â€œIâ€™m sure youâ€™re not spent yet,â€ he coos.
The couple, of course, is Brad (Dakota Mullins) and Janet (Caroline Chisholm). Both actors are senior musical theatre majors at Wright State University, with fine voices and stage presence. Each gets to shine in a solo. Brad sings the lament â€œOnce in a While,â€ backed up by a clever stunt that turns castle dÃ©cor of portraits and statues into a mouth-moving chorus. Janet, now tuned into her sensual side, dances and sings her seduction (â€œTouch-A, Touch Meâ€) of Rocky.
Ah, Rocky. It is hard to imagine more perfect casting than Tyler Kuhlman. Rocky Horror is Dr. Frank-n-Furterâ€™s creation, a physically perfect muscle man (the â€œCharles Atlas seal of approvalâ€), complete with â€œblond hair and a tan.â€ Just like Kuhlman, except this actor can also sing, dance, effortlessly slide down a stripperâ€™s pole, and get laughs by twitching his pecs.
There is a lot of physical comedy in The Rocky Horror Show. A standout is Chris Logan Carter as Riff Raff, the hunchbacked handyman. Carter has his own skillfully done version of that stereotyped character from old horror movies and newer satires.
Director Matthew Wilson has created a fast-paced and very funny show, getting the most from a talented cast willing to pull out all the stops.
The Rocky Horror Show runs through March 5 at Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, 801 Matson Place, in the Incline District of East Price Hill. For tickets, call 513-241-6550 or go to www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com, where you can also get more information about designated audience participation performances on Feb. 22, 24, 25 and March 1, 3 and 4.