When Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show came to the British stage in 1973 and the infamous picture show followed two years later, there was proof that more is more. A spoof of both the horror and science fiction genres, a cornucopia of songs and production numbers, the brash and bawdy entertainment gave excess a good name. Center Stage is bringing it all to life at the Courthouse Center For the Arts (through November 1) in an energetic celebration that just won’t stop.
From the time Trixie the usherette (Christine Treglia) demands our attention like a dominatrix with a flashlight, to the end when she reprises “Science Fiction — Double Feature,” we are under their spell. We’d better get with the program, because director Russell Maitland is making sure that audience participation is a live option. We are encouraged to respond, from the 10-minute audience warm-up through the familiar songs. In the spirit of not letting the good times stop rolling, showings of the movie, with viewers chiming in, have become a midnight tradition. That’s part of the fun of this stage pro-duction, too.
It is a dark and stormy night, of course, when innocents Brad Majors (Brad Kirton) and Janet Weiss (Kaela Adams) break down on a remote and lonely road — their car, not them. Not yet. Brad suggests that they walk back to a castle they passed, to use their phone. (Ensemble members spray the audience with misters; some audience members tent their heads with newspapers they brought for that occasion. “They don’t have phones in castles, asshole!” some bring up.) Greeting them at the door is Riff Raff (Kevin Broccoli). He’s not a hunchback in this version, but rather a cadaverous, black-lipsticked, lace-shirted minion to the lord of the manor, the spooky wildman Frank ’n’ Furter (Andrew Holder). From high heels and holey net stockings to curly black wig, Furter is a maniacal but fun-loving transvestite from Transylvania, and Holder launches him at us with authority and sardonic accuracy. Oprah is the narrator (Tammy Brown) guiding us in this incarnation.
The costume color scheme is black and blood-red, with occasional variations such as the golden sequins and leopard print on Columbia (Haley Woodbine), Furter’s neglected girlfriend, and the explosion of natural red hair of Riff Raff’s sister, Magenta (Samantha Acampora). Columbia shouldn’t be surprised at Furter straying, since he and his polymorphously perverse servants and phantoms in the castle are all bisexual — and likely would be tri- if there were another acceptable species around. (Smelling salts are not provided, so anyone likely to be shocked by re-curring and gleefully simulated sodomy should stay away or bring their own.)
Eventually, Furter assembles a collection of body parts into Rocky (Alex Valentine). He’s not a creature with stitches showing, never mind bolts in his neck, but rather a muscle-flexing strong-man. Rocky expresses anxiety over his future in “The Sword of Damocles,” but Furter, no New Age Sensitive Guy, responds only in muscle-shirt appreciation with “I Can Make You a Man.”
With so many songs and production numbers, there’s barely room for the ensemble to catch their breath between them. Needless to say, “Time Warp,” as in “Let’s do the time warp again!,” is the heart and soul of Rocky Horror. The titles of some other songs get across the antic spirit, declarations like “Hot Patootie — Bless My Soul” and “Don’t Dream It, Be It.” This entire show can be seen as a goof on that hilarious 1950s paranoia about rock ’n’ roll warping teenage minds, with a one-finger salute in response.