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By Bridgette M. Redman
Posted: Aug. 1, 2012 at 10:30 p.m.
Some shows gain their popularity by being terrifically bad. Without a doubt, the leader in this genre is the cult classic movie, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and its live companion "The Rocky Horror Show." It's not a movie nor a musical that is known for its stellar plot nor vivid characterizations. Rather it is an audience favorite because the members present can catcall and participate with the wildly improbably stage antics.
The production at The Barn Theatre – the 10th time this show has made an appearance in the Augusta theater's seasons over the years – is true to all the classic elements of this oddball musical. It is campy, darkly colorful, raunchy, and plays openly and with glee to its audience. It is pure, no holds-barred entertainment of the craziest kind.
The actors are prepared for the audience talking back, and more than once they acknowledge the ad libs and play along with them. The Barn staff encourages the ad libbing and for audience members in to come in costume, though they do warn that props are NOT welcome and are firm about people not throwing things at the actors or on the stage. These are good measure to keep things from getting out of control, though on opening night, they had few die-hard Rocky fans in either costumes or shouting out the "assholes" and "sluts" common to the show.
Third-year apprentice Melissa Cotton, recently seen as Elle in the Barn's "Legally Blonde," plays Janet (slut) who travels from apple pie innocence to teased-hair slut in the space of a single evening. Her fiance, the equally straight and narrow Brad (asshole), is played by a returning Barnie, Kevin Robert White in his first season with the Barn as an Equity resident (his fourth season total). Together the two make an amusing juxtaposition with the wild household of Dr. Frank 'N' Furter. She screams; he protects. She swoons; he catches. And they spend a lot of time in each other's arms striking poses of astonishment and fear.
The Barn's Frank 'N' Furter dominates the stage in many ways, starting with his height, towering on its own before getting the assist from spiked platform heels. Reprising the role for the sixth time is Fee Waybill, a man who made his fame as the lead singer of The Tubes. He never hesitates to make the broad choices and rocks it out non-stop. His presence is such that it is impossible to take one's eyes off him as he scampers through a stage crowded with his minions.
Director Brendan Ragotzy takes a turn on stage in this musical as the Igor-like Riff-Raff, a menial who does Frank 'N' Furter's dirty work for him while his sister Magenta (played by first-year apprentice Emily Callahan) cleans up the messes. Second-year apprentice Bethany Edlund is enthusiastic as Columbia, the groupie who falls in love first with the doctor and then with his doomed first experiment, Eddie (Nicholas Pearson, second year apprentice).
While Steven Lee Burright's narrator (boring) brings out a chart demonstrating how to dance the Time Warp and invites the audience to join in, there is very little room in the tight aisles of the Barn Theatre to do any movement, much less dancing.
The entire cast and crew commits to making this musical a wacky tribute to that '80s cult movie, playing to the hilt every element. It's an entertaining evening, especially for those who come prepared to participate.
SHOW DETAILS: "The Rocky Horror Show" continues at the Barn Theatre, 13351 W. M-96, Augusta, Tuesday-Sunday through Aug. 12. Running time: 101 minutes; no intermission. Tickets: $34. For information: 269-731-4121 or www.barntheatre.com.
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