Another day, another musical…what is this, Broadway? Zing! But seriously folks…two full-blown musicals in two days is pretty goddamn impressive for Ottawa in January, and no fooling. I was still tossing the tunes from BAT BOY around in my overworked noodle when I found myself once again wandering the labyrinthine tunnels underneath Carleton University, wending my way towards the ginormous, and slightly hard to find Kailash Mital Theatre. Because it’s a new year, and time for a new offering from the ne’er-do-well gang of theatre punks of Sock’n’Buskin. And, as mentioned, they decided on a musical for their latest offering.
Yes, the Sockies went there, putting Richard O’Brien’s legendary, so-bad-it’s-good trashfest THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW on the Carleton stage. Made (in)famous by the 1975 movie that pretty much defined the cinematic version of ‘cult’, and continues to inspire legions of devotees to regular showings at local theatres (like our very own Mayfair, for instance) to sing and dance, and very often mock, along with the insanity on the screen. And while the trained and polished nature of said mock-alongs are absolutely not my thing (and we’ll come back to that later), the show itself has a helluva lotta fun going for it, and I was looking forward to what SnB was going to do with it.
The batshit insane storyline involves goody-two-shoes sweethearts Janet and Brad (Julia Allen and Kevin Nimmock) getting a flat tire, and seeking refuge in a weird castle in the middle of nowhere. Greeted by weirdo servants Riff Raff (Cassie Nagy), Magenta (Annie King-Smith) and Columbia (Katherine Boone), our hapless heroes are soon introduced to the master of the house, flamboyant transvestite scientist Dr.Frank’n’Furter (Louis-Alexandre Boulet, eating the role up). Strutting and preening in a smashing outfit, the good Doctor is on the search for absolute pleasure, which he’s currently seeking in his studly homemade creation Rocky (Andrew Maloney), although he seems quite delighted to tear down whatever inhibitions Janet and Brad crossed the threshold with as well. Toss in the uptight Dr.Scott (Euan Wheaton, doubling as the show’s narrator), randy biker Eddie (Drew Rouble), a chorus of easy-on-the-eyes transvestites, AND a kickin’ onstage band providing incredible sound, and you’ve got yourself a show. In fact, you’ve got yourself a GREAT show.
First-time director Geoff Burnside and his team managed to come up with one seriously entertaining campy romp, well-staged and filled with killer songs. We all know the Time Warp, of course, but there are classics abounding in this show, and the SnB production does them good justice. Boulet leads the way with a thumping good rendition of ‘Sweet Transvestite’ that pretty much knocks the roof off the joint, and Julia Allen’s wonderfully doe-eyed Janet gets well and saucy with her second act version of ‘Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me’. For a refresher, here’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Amber Benson performing that from a few years ago (sharing just ’cause I luv Amber Benson, and fuck you if you don’t):
It’s a terrific show, probably the best I’ve seen from Sock’n’Buskin, and if you’re a fan of musicals you now have two shows in town that you pretty much GOTTA see. I was a fan of just about all the performances, with a special soft spot for Cassie Nagy’s merrily creepy Riff Raff, and Euan Wheaton’s hilariously dry-witted narrator. The cast dig into their roles with appropriate gusto, the set from Awesome Jeff Cowen is, well, awesome, and I’m happy to say this was probably the biggest and best audience I’ve seen yet at a Sockies show. Which brings me back to what I was hitting on before. I’m well aware, of course, that at this point in human history it’s pretty much impossible to extricate ‘Rocky Horror’ from ‘Audience Participation’. So it wasn’t a complete surprise when someone piped up early in the premiere with some practiced quips, and continued for the whole show (not the whole audience, mind you…just that one guy). In fact, he may even have been part of the show…Although there were enough times when he cluelessly tried to outshout the live band on stage, to little effect, that I like to think he was just enthusiastic (and apparently oblivious to the differences between a screening of an old movie, and a live performance). A lot of the audience dug his banter, and this may be happening for every show during the run, I really don’t know. I personally wanted him dead (or at least tased), but hey, different strokes. Just a heads up that, if you go and see this wonderful musical with great performances, costumes, music and choreography, there may be idiots shouting stupid things a lot. So, you know…hopefully you like that part more than I did. Peace, love, and Dammit, Janet,
Kevin Reid (and Winston)