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Theater Review (Bridgeport, CT): The Return of The Rocky Horror Show

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Just in time for Halloween, Bridgeport’s Playhouse on the Green presents Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show. This cult favorite will serve as a hot spot for adults who want to dress in their best bustiers, fishnets, feather boas, and platform shoes, as well as the rest of us who just want to see a fun show complete with audience participation. Just don’t throw anything at the actors.

First seen in London in 1973, The Rocky Horror Show is the ultimate classic rock ‘n’ roll musical. For those who may be unfamiliar with the show, the plot is thin – Brad and Janet, a nerdy couple on their way home from a wedding, have a breakdown on a rainy night and seek shelter in a castle, where they encounter strange inhabitants, including the transvestite Frank N. Furter and his creation, Rocky, as well as the servants, Riff-Raff, Magenta, and Columbia.

Over the course of the night, Brad and Janet are subjected to a series of erotic misadventures and kinkiness of a kind that the couple never imagined. Other inhabitants of this strange place are Eddie, a rock and roll greaser who ends up being chain-sawed to pieces by Frank N. Furter; a bunch of phantoms; and Dr. Scott, a scientist who reveals that the creatures are actually aliens. It’s all a bit of nonsense and that is the point – the show spoofs old science fiction B movies and is purposely completely campy.

The Playhouse production features local talent and the music of the band Greasewheazer. The band is awesome and can really rock. While some of the actors stood out, others at the performance I attended could not live up to the talent of the band and therefore some of the numbers fell flat. I thought that Rob Nichols, who played Riff Raff on the night I attended, just missed the mark on reaching the hard rock sound necessary to bring the song “Time Warp” to its ultimate intensity, and I thought that having Cheryl Papsidera play Eddie and Dr. Scott was an odd choice.

There were some standouts in the cast. Jim Nassef played Frank N. Furter with classic camp that seemed to invite Brad, Janet, and the audience to be a little bit naughty. He was a joy to watch as he vamped around the stage, singing “Sweet Transvestite.” Melinda Zupaniotis was wickedly creepy as Magenta and has an amazing singing voice. Jessica Ferraday and Brian Michael Riley were outstanding as Janet and Brad. Riley played the perfect nebbish, from his nerd glasses down to his skinny legs and tighty-whities.

What really makes the show fun is the audience participation. The Playhouse offers audience participation kits for sale prior to the performance, so you’ll have everything you’ll need to join in the fun. The Phantoms will help instruct the audience in the correct responses to the names Brad Majors and Janet Weiss. Even the Narrator gets in on the act, interacting with the audience, and ad-libbing from there. Just be warned, sometimes the audience participation gets to be too much, and audience members can seem to be competing with the actors on the stage. (Don’t be one of those!)

The Rocky Horror Show is not for everyone. Parental discretion is advised, as there are sexual situations, some profanities, a bouquet made of condoms, and other assorted props and situations that might be difficult to explain to the kids. But for adults who want to dress up and do the “Time Warp” again, I recommend seeing the Rocky Horror Show at the Playhouse on the Green. Go ahead, I know you want to. You only live once and as the song says, “Don’t Dream It, Be It.”

The Return of the Rocky Horror Show will be at the Playhouse on the Green until November 14th. Order tickets online or call 866-811-4111.

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About CindyC

Cindy is a Connecticut writer and member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. She has had many changes in her life, but one thing has always remained the same: her life-long love of theater.