By Nicholas Persad
Sex. Debauchery. Scandal. Three words that accurately describe the overtly sexual, button-pushing play ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ which concluded its three performances on Oct. 24 with its midnight showing in the Black Box Studio Theatre in the Myers Fine Arts Building at Plattsburgh State.
The play which was directed by PSU student Antonette Knoedl was a creative blend of musical theatre, interaction with the audience and sexual exploitation.
The play’s opening performance was by the ‘Phantoms’, a group of scantily clad dancers whose seductive gyrations and teasing countenance provided the heated mood that would resonate throughout the play. As they danced one realized that in this room, at this moment there were no restrictions and no form of physical display was out of the ordinary.
The first characters on stage were Brad Majors and Janet Weiss played by Andrew Murano and Elizabeth Abair respectively. They portrayed the newly engaged couple who as a result of their car trouble become playthings for the sexual deviants who dwell in the castle where they seek refuge.
For the play to have its interactive nature, comments from the audience where encouraged and welcomed when the cast members delivered different lines. In the beginning it was somewhat distracting as it was unclear whether these audience members who were making these comments were part of the show. By the second scene it blended perfectly and enhanced the performances by including the audience to such a great extent.
The Narrator played by Steven Hebert was the third character to enter the stage, and his role was to inform the audience as to what was going on in various situations.
When the unsuspecting couple found themselves at the doors of the castle they were greeted by Riff Raff, the butler of the castle play by Rory Wallace. Wallace’s voice was an astounding asset and elevated him above the rest of the cast, and it was evident that he was professionally trained. His acting skills proved just as formidable as his voice. His character was one that grabbed the attention of the audience whenever he was on stage. Wallace’s character proved to be one whose lines would often produce comic remarks from the audience. When his character invited the young couple into the castle he said, “You should come,” and then someone from the audience would scream, “On her face,” before he could finish the line. The actors seemed trained to pause when saying lines like these to allow the audience to appreciate the joke but still hear the lines.
Riff Raff’s female counterpart Magenta played by Danielle Henderson also had a powerful voice and on the stage she completely embodied the demonic look of her character. However, Henderson’ voice was oftentimes inaudible over the loud background music.
Characters such as Columbia played by Kady Smith and Eddie and Dr. Scott both played by Caleb Newell added to the comic relief of the play, but they did not enhance it or detract from it with their performances.
The entrance of the character Frank ‘N’ Furter played by Jason Spencer was truly a spectacle. He walked onto the stage in a corset and high heels and as he sang he moved across the stage with the elegance of a woman who has been wearing shoes with 5 inch heels all his life. His character was the focus of the story, and he did an excellent job of capturing the minds of the audience by never faltering with his character throughout the entire play.
The only character that did not live up to the hype of the production was the title character himself. Rocky who was played by Andy Velez was a tremendous miscast. His voice was not up to par with any of the other performers on stage, and he was never engrossing with his performance. He seemed to be trying too much to give this impression of this tormented, created creature that was under the power of Frank ‘N’ Furter. His performance did not seem effortless like it did for the other performers. His character became a side character whenever Wallace, Henderson or Spencer took the stage.
The ending of the play was when the audience recognized the true stars of the show. Wallace and Henderson in the final scene rebelling against their master stole the show. Overall the play was a huge success with the exception of a few less than captive performances.