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Bloody great time

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Bloody great time
Bloody great time

Feel the chills, thrills and decadent frills that is 'The Rocky Horror Show'

By Jake TenPas/Photos by Scobel Wiggins

The Entertainer

The first time I saw "Rocky Horror Picture Show," the film version of the infamous stage musical made popular by Tim Curry's androgenous turn as Dr. Frank N Furter, it went right over my head.

Of course, I was in middle school, had never had sex before and still maintained some fairly quaint illusions about life and the nature of relationships.

If you've ever experienced Rocky Horror, you know how these thoughts were brutally ripped from my head with the surgical precision of an ice cream scoop lobotomy.

The movie version, which followed 1973's stage debut by a couple of years, featured many of the cast members that had launched the show in London, and all of the original run's raunchy, campy homages to old horror flicks, the sexual revolution and the rock 'n' roll counterculture.

In short, it was a beautiful thing.

But it wasn't until I sat in Albany Civic Theater, watching a gang of actors ranging in age from 17 to 70, that I truly experienced the phenomenon that is "The Rocky Horror Show."

The story, if you can call it that, follows the misadventures of recently engaged all-American college students Brad Majors and Janet Weiss as they attempt to get help at a castle following the breakdown of their car.

Little do they know that the castle is owned by transvestite Frank N Furter and his henchmen Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia, who hold deranged sex and music parties for their own hedonistic amusement. In such a place, every night is festive, but the night that Brad and Janet arrive is special, because Frank is about to unveil his newest "creation" the tall, well-muscled aryan boytoy Rocky Horror.

I shan't reveal a lick more, just in case there are some of you out there still closer to Janet and Brad than Frank and Columbia, but needless to say that by the end of the play, no character remains unchanged.

ACT's production of the show stars Oregon State University Band Conductor Dr. Brad Townsend as Frank, and while no man can live up to Tim Curry's defining portrayal, Townsend does his damnedest. With a powerful voice and a striking figure in a red teddy, Townsend struts the stage like a craggy punk rocker sneering at all of society's conventions.

Jim Egan and Harriet Nixon bring an extra-creamy vanilla flavor to the wholesome roles of Brad and Janet and each shine in their own way. Egan is a master of physical movement and characterization with a conversational singing voice. Nixon has a soaring vocal range that hits all the right notes, particularly during the play's naughtier moments. Let's just say that she seems to have amazing breath control.

Anya Corbitt and Chris Hennes are diabolically delicious as the incestuous brother and sister duo Magenta and Riff Raff, and Melody Murphy demonstrates both her vocal and tap-dancing skills to a divine degree as scorned lover Columbia.

Finally, the play wouldn't be complete without its namesake, Rocky Horror. In the roll, 17-year-old wunderkind Miles Fletcher of "Batboy" and "Charley's Aunt," swaggers like the wide-eyed love child of David Bowie and Robert Shaw's hitman in "From Russia with Love." I don't want to make this kid's head any bigger than it already must be, but cat's got charisma, and I'd wager a promising career in the biz ahead of him. Barely saying a word, he carves out a niche for himself among a cast of bizarre characters with a cartoonish physical performance.

At the helm is seasoned ACT and CCT director Christi Sears, who's past credits include "Pirates of Penzance," "Damn Yankees" and "Little Shop of Horrors," and who deserves serious credit for bringing such a risque piece to the quiet, conservative town of Albany. The feat is especially impressive when you consider that "Rocky Horror Show" only became available to amateur stage companies last year, and as far as Sears knows, this is its West Coast premiere.

Sears has been tenacious in trying to derail my personal ignorance of the local theater scene, and after making the short trip up Highway 20, I was struck by the beautiful dichotomy that is this latest ACT production.

On the one hand, "Rocky Horror Show" is a simultaneous celebration of nostalgia and perversion, a science fiction movie in which the monster rips apart tradition and your dearest memories.

"This is not a show for the sexually impaired," says Sears amid cackles of pure joy at the wonderfully wrong atmosphere that permeates the stage. "Honey, it's beyond suggestive. It's downright naughty."

Yes, yes, oh God yes!

But on the other hand, hanging out with the cast, crew and band of "Rocky Horror" for the night, I was touched by the lovely, familial feeling of this group of passionate thespians that filled the decaying structure. To see the glorious filth of the musical juxtaposed with the inspiring team spirit of the acting troupe was like a steam bath followed by a plunge into an icy river.

Plus, you've got to love any play where you get to hear members of the cast shout out things like "Jim's back there getting the seams on his nylons straight," "Arm sex, between brother and sister and, best of all, "Booties out!"

Thank you, Christi, for showing me the light (and dark) and to the entire ACT posse, I say let your freak flag fly.

"Touch-a, touch-a, touch me, I want to be dirty."

Jake TenPas edits the Entertainer. He can be reached at jake.tenpas@lee.net or 758-9514.

If you dare

What: Albany Civic Theater's presentation of 'Rocky Horror Show.

Where: Albany Civic Theater, 111 First Ave. Albany

When: 8 p.m. April 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 23; 2:30 p.m April 10, 17; midnight April 22

Cost: $11 general admission; $8 juniors and senior citizens. Advance tickets are available at Sid Stevens Jewelers and Rice's Pharmacy.

'The Rocky

Horror Show'

Director: Christi E. Sears

Musical Director: Dow Yeh

Vocal Director: Chris Lee

Choreographer: Megan Matthes

Set/Light Design: John Elliott

Costume Designers: Jan Marie Mader, Sarah Roth, Lara Van Hoff and Harriet Nixon

CAST:

Dr. Frank N Furter: Dr. Brad Townsend (OSU Band Conductor)

Brad: Jim Eagan

Janet: Harriet Nixon

Magenta: Anya Corbitt

Columbia: Melody Murphy

Riff Raff: Chris Henness

Rocky Horror: Miles Fletcher

Narrator: Alisia Murphy

Dr. Scott: Bill Maier

Eddie: Dean Keeling (April 1, 2 and 9th) and Scott Ingham (other dates)

Transilvanians: Christa Keim, Sandi Wilson, Emily Parker, Anna Tarasawa, Trenton Hyde, Robert Pickett, Kim Mainard, Brenda Baxter, Dennis Glidden, Ahna Neal, Kay Rothe, Takara Sieroslsawski, Shauna Kiefiuk, Diana Shultz

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