Rocky Horror Show Live in Lafayette

Rocky Horror Show: As outrageous as ever, with fish net stockings, garter-belts and everyone still gyrating and thrusting their pelvises to “The Time Warp” rock!

Lafayette Town Hall Theatre’s Artistic Director, Kevin Morales has pulled out all stops with his brilliant production of an outrageously funny, funky, trashy, campy “adult” musical gem, The Rocky Horror Show. Richard O’Brien’s zany satire on gothic “Frankenstein” type horror shows of the 30’s through the 50’s became an overnight success when in opened in The Royal Court Theatre in London in 1973. By 1975 the play had generated a huge cult following and O’Brien was encouraged to write a movie version. The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was created in 1975 and became another instant success, world wide. This shock-rock comic-book style comedy musical has played continuously around the world for the past 33 years.

I remember the first time I saw the show in the old University Theater on University Avenue in Berkeley in the mid to late 70’s. I had gone to see another wacko “B” rated science movie for kicks called “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” (the honest-to-God truth!). After the movie I had planned to see was over, several of my friends decided to stay around to see the “Midnight” showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. When people started filing into the theater wearing black fish-net stockings, garter-belts and sexy undergarments over their clothing, I just about freaked out. I must admit that this Berkeley crowd was much wilder than even I was used to and when people got up on the stage in front of the screen dressed as the characters in the show, acting out their characters’ parts and singing the musical’s lyrics in robust over-zealous mimicking, I decided not to stay for the entire movie. A little too nutso for me!

The Town Hall version is a greatly toned down, albeit, wildly funny and superbly done version of the original musical production. According to its author, Richard O’Brien, the story is merely another fairy tale take off similar to the Panto version of “Babes In The Woods” or even further back, “The Fall”, the story of Adam and Eve’s transgression. In this story, the mad scientist, Dr. Frank “N” Furter (a pseudo Dr. Frankenstein) is evil incarnate, in other words, the Devil. He is played superbly by Alec Warwick. His principal servant, known as Riff-Raff (Sean Robert Griffin), is somewhat similar to the Peter Lourie type character who served Dr Frankenstein. The two “innocent” young people, Brad and Janet, find themselves knocking at Dr. Frank “N” Furter’s dark castle door late at night in a driving rain storm, and asking for the use of a phone when their car is disabled due to a flat tire. However, this is where the similarity to the earlier horror films end, as this story takes a bizarre and twisted turn. The main character, Dr. Frank “N” Furter, is a transvestite, looking somewhat like “Alice Cooper” (a 70’s “dark and often repugnant” rock star). All of the characters in the Dr’s castle are a bit demented and just plain weird. At the same time, they are absolutely wonderful actors, skillfully recreating O’Brien’s 70’s tale, much like visiting the era again.

You will follow the squeaky clean Brad and Janet on a rather pubescent adventure, a tale about growing up, about finding sexual maturity that they (and you) will never forget. Frank “N” Furter’s maniacal creation, a man named “Rocky”, is a “perfect blond male specimen” in just about every respect. The young couple, Brad and Janet, just happened to have dropped in on the Doctor and his friends in Frankenstein’s castle on Rocky’s first night out, first time out of the incubator (or womb as it is called in the play) and they are having a “coming out party”. Brad and Janet, over their objections, are “invited” to join in the festivities after a little “indoctrination” by the doctor and his staff, a sort of sexual wakeup call designed to take their innocence away. Now don’t take this all too serious as this is all done as a great spoof of these tales where people do bad things and are destroyed for their evil. In this tale, the innocents are only guilty of giving into their human feelings when they are aroused, after all, they are and were drugged and deceived by the Devil, so it’s not completely their fault. Brad (played by Peter Matthew Smith) and Janet (played by Anne Letscher) are terrific, true professionals in every moment of their performances. The supporting lead servant characters, Columbia (played by Meghann May) and Magenta (played by Rebecca Elyse) are not only beautiful, they are accomplished and skilled actors as well. One of the most important actors who isn’t even on the stage (not exactly) is Bill Clemente, who plays the Narrator, a one-eyed criminologist who helps us understand the developing story. Bill is truly excellent, absolutely perfect for the part! Rocky is played very well by Ryan Meulpolder and Dr. Everett Scott, the token visiting German scientist (there was always a German scientist who showed up in these nutty shows), is very good as well. I haven’t mentioned everyone, but is suffices me to say, the entire cast is very good, and the show is an absolutely bonkers, fun-filled evening of entertainment. I loved it, as silly and naughty as it is. It is all done as good “adult” fun.

This entire cult classic musical is slightly kinky with funny songs that border on naughty, and are slightly sexual, such as the pelvic thrusting number called “The Time Warp”. There are a lot of numbers with very clever plays on words, such as “Damn it Janet” and Sweet Transvestite” and “Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me”, to name a few. By today’s theatrical standards, these are very tame sexual innuendoes. Yes, this is a bit more risqué than many of you are used to seeing at Town Hall, but it is the kind of “70’s” provocative shows that many of us grew up with. It certainly is not even close to being as bold as “Oh Calcutta!” which was a big rage in that time frame. Try it! Come along with this cast to the Frankenstein’s Castle as you will probably get a big kick out of it. There are some great voices and excellent portrayals. You can even sing along if you like!

This show plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., now through Saturday, September 23rd. There will be Sunday Matinees on September 3rd and 10th at 2 p.m., with a Sunday evening performance on September 17th at 7 p.m.. The Town Hall Theatre is locate at 3535 Old School Road, at Moraga Road, in Lafayette.. Ticket prices range between$19 and $23 for Seniors, $17 through $19 for young adults (13 -18) and general admission is $22 to $26. Call 283-1557 or visit their website at for ticket information or reservations. This is plenty of parking on the street near the theatre, if you get there a little early.

You might also inquire about the new play that will be read on Monday evening, September 11th, 2006, in the Town Hall Theater, a play entitled Awaiting Autumn, written by Kenneth Morales, in memory of those who died in the twin towers disaster on this same date, five years ago. There will be a desert reception that follows the reading.

Finally, if you haven’t come to Town Hall to see the Angry Reynolds Radio Theatre productions (also known as “Live from Lafayette: Old Time Radio Theater Series”) on Monday evenings at 8 p.m., then it’s time to get in gear. Call the Town Hall for additional information on these radio broadcasts from yesteryear - - (at least the stories are) that are staged just like a real radio broadcast show. They have terrific actors, the stories are especially fun when you can see the actors on stage reading and acting out their scripts, something that you could only hear over the scratchy old radio, when many of these show were originally written. Most especially, I encourage you see the Flywheel, Schyster and Flywheel radio series written for the Marx Brothers, but never aired.