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'Rocky Horror Show' opens Barn season in fine form

Kalamazoo Gazette, Wednesday, May 28, 2003
BY MARK WEDEL, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE

AUGUSTA -- Are you really going to do the Time Warp again? Are you ready to see Fee Waybill's scary self in revealing lingerie again? Are you going to go see "The Rocky Horror Show" at the Barn Theatre again?

As a line in the play goes, "There's no crime in giving yourself over to pleasure."

Of course, a heckler in Tuesday night's audience responded, "There is in Augusta!"

The Barn closed last year's season with the glam-rock camp classic and had such a successful run with it that they've brought it back to open this season.

Tuesday night's opening didn't pack the house, but it was a fair-sized crowd.

This was the third time in Augusta for Waybill as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and the seventh time overall the Barn has staged "Rocky." One could imagine that if no one came to see it, they'd still keep putting it on, just because they have so much fun on stage with it.

Just in case you missed the stage show or the long-running movie version, the plot revolves around two clean-cut '50s-style kids, Brad and Janet, who get lost and find themselves in a castle full of '70s-style freaks and deviants. Richard O'Brien wrote it 30 years ago as a campy parody of old horror and science-fiction movies with a number of retro touches, mixed that together with the glam-rock and sexual experimentation culture of the time and came up with a lewd time at the theater. Now what was cutting edge in 1973 is retro, and the retro of then is retro squared.

Over the years, audiences have come up with their own script of rude responses to the camped-up, cliched dialogue, adding to the fun of the performance. A few people at the Barn shouted back at the stage, the favorite of the night being "Boring!" every time the narrator (Gregg Rehrig) did his portentous spiel. One joker got Waybill to pause and spend some time mugging like a disturbed Milton Berle as the audience laughed at what we can't print here.

The audience danced the Time Warp and a few dressed for the occasion, but the toast and squirt guns were left home.

The cast had a blast. Scott Burkell returned as Furter's skull-faced partner, Riff-Raff, and gave the dry performance that was a perfect counterpoint to Waybill's hamminess. Trevor Southworth and Katherine Anne Hartweg were fine at acting in pastels as the innocent couple who are defiled at the castle, and Hartweg stood out as her character got dirty with "Touch-a Touch Me."

Eric Parker made a short appearance as the corpse Eddie, who springs out of the Coca-Cola cooler to sing a rockin' "What Ever Happened to Saturday Night?" And Lisa Marie Morabito, as the Transylvanian Columbia, rose above a small role with a silly voice and energetic comedy.

Waybill, as usual, was the perfect Frank-N-Furter. As the singer for The Tubes, a band whose theatrics got them banned from a few towns in the '70s, Waybill knows how to sing, knows how to get an audience reaction and knows how to wear the very high heels. He was in fine form Tuesday night. Waybill was so over-the-top and physically into the act that Ben Bucher, who played Rocky, the blond, muscular, empty-headed creation of the mad transvestite scientist, deserved hazard pay.

The only sour note was that the Barn's sound system seemed to have trouble getting the vocals out in front of a fully rocking score. The orchestra, led by new musical director Ian Eisendrath, was fine, but too often the vocals were drowned out. Otherwise, this is "one from the vault" that's still as fun as an animated corpse in fishnets could be.

THEATER REVIEW

"The Rocky Horror Show," presented by the Barn Theatre in Augusta. Directed by Brendan Ragotzy. Choreographer: Charlie Misoveye. Music director: Ian Eisendrath. Lighting: Monique R. Norman. Costumes: Judy Kazy-Garey. Technical director: Fred Gillette. Sound: James Stephenson. Wigs/hair: Garrylee McCormick. Continues at 8:30 p.m. today through Friday and June 3-6; 6 and 9 p.m. Saturday and June 7; 5 p.m. Sunday and June 8. 731-4121.

The cast:

Riff-Raff ................. Scott Burkell
Columbia .... Lisa Marie Morabito
Magenta ............. Lisa Liaromatis
Brad .............. Trevor Southworth
Janet ... Katherine Anne Hartweg
Narrator ................ Gregg Rehrig
Frank-N-Furter ......... Fee Waybill
Rocky ...................... Ben Bucher
Eddie ......................... Eric Parker
Doctor Scott ... Howard McBride


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