Lancaster Opera House debuted its first musical of its first season completely in residence last weekend with cult classic “The Rocky Horror Show.” Richard O’Brien’s creepy, hilarious and sometimes insane show is well performed by a talent-ridden cast, featuring plenty of fresh faces.
A celebration of a cult classic…
We open with, what else, “Science Fiction Double Feature,” which is sung live by an usherette and hints at some of the bizarre events our main characters are about to experience. I doubt there’s ever been a version as good Megan Mahaney’s, which was a great start to the show.
We are immediately introduced to newly engaged Brad (Angelo Heimowitz) and Janet (Madelyn Teal), whose car breaks down on the way to visit their former science teacher to share their happy news. Once they reach a nearby castle, they are welcomed in by Riff Raff (an unbelievable Matthew Rittler), Magenta (a sassy Heather Reed) and Columbia (a lively Kate Mulberry), who lead them in “The Time Warp,” kicking off a night they’re sure to remember.
Soon after the “Time Warp,” on struts Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter (Joe Russi). Russi, simply put, is a star. His range is unbelievable, as is his ability to strut the stage in heels and a corset. Russi brings depth to a character that might appear one-dimensional, captivating every audience member to the point where each of his songs garnered long applause and cheers.
While I love Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon as much as the next person, you can’t deny that the stars of the movie aren’t the strongest singers. With director David Bondrow’s cast, every song is taken to new heights and is impeccably performed by the cast, especially Russi, Teal and Rittler. Timmy Goodman’s choreography is interesting and appropriately simple at times, and the quintet of Phantoms/Transylvanians is perfectly haunting and humorous throughout the show.
The Opera House stage is known for being small, but David Dwyer utilized the theater’s back brick wall in his two-level design, which made a huge impact on the stage’s size. It felt larger than usual with room to breathe; so much, in fact, that I bet a few more ensemble members could have fit comfortably.
This production is a true celebration of a cult classic and is being performed (rightfully) at the spookiest time of year. If you’re a Rocky Horror fan, you’ll love every minute.
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 45 minutes including a 15-minute intermission
“The Rocky Horror Show” runs through November 3 at the Lancaster Opera House. For more information and tickets, click here.