At the cast parties for my high school drama club, someone would eventually pop in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. As everyone else started to sing along, I would feel like an outcast among outcasts watching as the rest proceeded to do choreography along with the movie, shout out inside jokes and repeat whole lines of dialogue.
Although I found Tim Curry intriguing and sexy in the 1975 cult film, I harbored a resentment against the franchise because back then I liked to hate on anything I didn’t initially get. Yeah, back then…
So, when some dear friends invited me to see a former theatre professor of ours in a production of the original play the movie was based on, I said yes because I wanted to see my friends. I admit I was dreading it a bit, expecting a group of rowdy dressed up fans in what would amount to a glorified burlesque show. Not that there is anything wrong with rowdy burlesque shows…I just am bitter.
On to the Coeurage Theatre Company’s production of The Rocky Horror Show. I loved so many things about this production. It brought a vitality and passion that I imagine was a part of the very first production of the play. The music was perfect, sparse yet full bodied a three piece rock band you would find playing in an intimate club. However, as the loyal girlfriend of a kick ass bass player I do have to say…get some BASS next time!
The staging and choreography worked brilliantly within the small black box and 40 seat theatre. It wasn’t overly ambitious or overtly campy, just perfect and inventive. I noticed not just dancing but what we call in the theatre great “movement work”, meaning all of the actors moved well, regardless whether or not they were dancing and movement was used to convey character, relationship and situation.
Set design was sparse almost minimalist, but worked for this space and and interpretation . A large red lip shaped couch was at the backstage center and served as an appropriate focal point, and only necessary piece of furniture.
Makeup was suitably understated in places, appropriately punchy in others. I especially liked the make-up for the Phantoms, as well as the lipstick used on Frank N. Furter, Magenta and Columbia. The overall effect was enticing, sexy and a little transcendent. Costuming fit in with the rest of the production elements as it was appropriate, inventive, not trying too hard.
I could pick out specific performances, but the more I think about it, what I liked the absolute most about this production was that the cast was so evenly matched. Not perfect, of course there were very small moments here and there that could have been a little better more nuanced etc; but overall the quality and evenness of every element is what stood out to me the most. No one upstaged anyone, no one was the star, no one was lagging, everyone was giving their passion. This show with its reputation as a cult classic, gives the impression that it is an easy production to mount. It isn’t precisely for that reason. How do you take a cult classic and make it fresh?
You do it by bringing your passion and work ethic to the table, leaving the diva at the door, and working as a group to create a cohesive statement. You do it by trying very hard not to try too hard. This is what the Coeurage Theatre Company did with this production of Rocky Horror, and while I will be continuing to work on my “outsider” issues with my therapist, I will not be remaining an outsider of their future shows.
Unfortunately, this production is closed after this weekend, but be sure to check out their upcoming season of shows, the company has already achieved a lot of attention in one short year. Check out the attached link with an interview of company founders.
You can find them on facebook here http://www.facebook.com/CoeurageTheatre.