Moonbox Productions emerged from the 18-month blackout at the theater in person with a encore presentation of “The Rocky Horror Show,” a production that brings back all the twisted fun of the movie version that took place at the Harvard Theater. Square for 28 years. .
“Rocky Horror” combines 1950s sci-fi, pre-slasher “B” horror films and a tale of sexual arousals on one rock ‘n’ roll score, giving musical theater fans their first musical comedy large-scale in Greater Boston since the start of the pandemic. It’s a much needed burst of exuberance at full speed.
As a lover of all of these things, it was a trip to take to the 1970s when my suburban friends and I went to Harvard Square to see the cult movie for the first time. With half the audience dressed in drag or other weird costumes from the movie and the “shadow actors” lip-syncing and acting as the movie played behind them, it was a culture shock and entertainment experience that kicked off. mind – much like the Boston punk scene that quickly followed. When the opener opens the show with the dreamy ‘Science Fiction / Double Feature’ doo-wop, with its references to both the good and the horrible sci-fi movies of the 1050s, I was sent back to my youth. .
For those unfamiliar with the film or stage version (which was first performed at the Royal Court Theater in London in 1973, the film in 1975) it tells the story of innocent young lovers Brad Majors (Ryan Norton) and his fiancee Janet Weiss (Christina Jones). They have a flat tire in a raging thunderstorm and are forced to call for help in a spooky castle down the road, accompanied by the beautiful ballad “Over at the Frankenstein Place” beautifully sung by Jones and Norton and the “ghosts” – the singer / dancers play. When they arrive, they are greeted by the spooky inhabitants of the joint: Riff Raff (Kevin Hanley), Magenta, (Lori The Italian, who also plays the opener), Columbia (Shalyn Grow) and the rest of the cast, and are soon dragged into a dance party in the night’s most rock number “The Time Warp,” a nitrate-style extravaganza by Busby Berkeley-on-amyl with an electric tap streak from Grow.
This sets the stage for Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter (Peter Mill, in a shattering return to the role) entering in pink faux fur over a leather bustier and fishnet stockings and heels. The pansexual and pansexual “Sweet Transsexual Transylvania Transvestite”, snorting a pair of numbers with the cast, “Sweet Travestite” and “I’ll make you a man”. The latter presents us with his latest creation from the lab, Rocky (Jack Manning), a hunky version of Frankenstein’s monster destined (perhaps) to be the Mad Scientist’s new beau, but not before Frank has first seduces Brad and Janet, turning their life plans upside down. There is a subplot about the murder of Eddie (Shonna Cirone), but I always thought that at this point in the play the plot was just a serving board for the musical numbers rather than something worth watching too closely. But who cares ? The enthusiasm of the cast, imaginative choreography by Dan Forest Sullivan (assisted by Joy Clark and dance / ghost captain Janis Hudson) and kick-ass group led by Mindy Cimini set the show on high.
Moonbox organized this show in 2019 at the same location, installing bleachers on either side of the stage; this time, he has reconfigured the space into a more conventional theater space that allows performers to keep a safe distance from the audience. A number of the cast returned for this production (Mill, Cirone, The Italian, Hudson, Alex Jacobs as narrator and Grow, once a ghost), and they turn it on again. Mill is as good a comedian with his over-the-top Frank ‘N’ Furter as he is with his powerful pipes, and The Italian brings a daring biker mentality to the role of Magenta in addition to his solid voice, especially in the le opening number of the show.
But as we saw in the formidable production of “Parade” (also in 2019), Moonbox has a knack for discovering new talent, this time removing Jones and Norton from the Boston Conservatory for the roles of Janet and Brad. In addition to her excellent voice, Jones displays a nice comedic flair, especially during the issue “Time Warp” when her priceless facial expressions make it seem like she’s being sucked into the dance against her will. Norton absolutely kills him on the ballad, “Once in a While”.
As we take our first steps into the theater, thanks to the masks and proof of vaccination warrants, Moonbox shows us “There is a light in the dark” with this tremendous revival of “Rocky Horror”. See.
A version of this story originally appeared on TheaterMirror.net.