Off-Broadway: `Pete ‘n Keely’

The Key

Ticket Numbers

Corrections or additions?

These reviews by Simon Saltzman were prepared for the February 28,

2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Broadway: `Rocky Horror Show’

If you are inclined to coo over kitschy nostalgic camp,

then you have a choice of either Broadway’s "The Rocky Horror

Show," and Off-Broadway’s ""Pete ‘n Keely."

"If few people remember the 1975 Broadway version of the "The

Rocky Horror Show," everyone, unless you’ve been under a rock for

25 years, has either heard of or become a fan of "The Rocky Horror

Picture Show." Although this film send-up of the horror and

science

fiction genre was a flop, as was the stage version (the original

London

production was a big hit), when first released, it became a cult

phenomenon

at midnight screenings with the audience dressing up and speaking

aloud the dialogue. A quarter of a century later, the time is ripe

for a new and spectacularly high tech reincarnation of that infamous

transvestite transsexual from Transylvania. Although it does not

provoke

the same kind of interaction as did the film version, there are enough

Greek-chorus like responses from a savvy audience to affectionately

intimidate those who have not committed every line of dialogue to

memory.

The Circle in the Square is the perfect venue for this phantasmagoric

production. The well of its arena-like configuration acts as a long

in-your-face runway for the raucous lavishly presented production

numbers and the awesome stage craft and settings by David Rockwell

that ascend and descend to astonishing effect. The show is cleverly

book-ended by a scene showing rows of life-sized dummies facing the

proscenium, the contoured curtain of an old movie house about to open.

The live ushers, played by Daphne Rubin-Vega and guitar-wielding Joan

Jett, provide the opening and closing song "Science Fiction Double

Feature," but are also seen again respectively as the more

hyper-kinetic

Magenta and Columbia.

You don’t have to know what to say or what to throw

(from the little bag being hocked in the lobby) at the performers,

or whether to yell "Boring!" everytime Dick Cavett, the show’s

narrator reappears to either comment on the action, or digress

wittingly

with currently topical news items. Cavett’s conservatively offbeat

remarks make for comforting breaks between the glittering gaudy

pervasively

and purposefully tasteless parade of sexual silliness.

The story is beyond trite, but director Christopher Ashley has plenty

of surprises in store for those that think they know it all. The show

begins as a black-and-white movie. It’s a dark and stormy night when

golly gee wholesome Americans Brad Majors (Jarrod Emick) and Janet

Weiss (Alice Ripley), step right out of the screen when their car

breaks down and they find themselves seeking shelter in a creepy old

mansion. Here, they encounter Frank-n-Furter (Tom Hewitt) a mad

bleached-blond

scientist in fish-net stockings, who is trying create the perfect

man — for himself.

Although they are both soon seduced by him, they also become his

unwitting

apprentices, as he conducts some extremely bizarre sexual and

biological

experiments, all to Richard O’Brien’s ever amusing and trivial rock

score and to choreographer Jerry Mitchell’s energetic dances.

As Brad and Janet, Emick and Ripley are delightful foils for Emmet’s

crazed and comical Frank-n-Furter. Besides the dynamic presence of

Rubin-Vega and Jett, Lea DeLaria also plays two parts with gusto –

Eddie the expendable biker and his Uncle Dr. Scott. Sebastian LaCause

is appropriately muscular and mindless as the wind-up boy toy, and

Raul Esparza is notably creepy as Riff Raff. Be prepared to see more

than a few of the core audience adorned in Rocky-styled getups.

Gawking

at others is as expected and anticipated as I suspect is mutual

mocking.

But nothing you see out front is going to outdo the sexy

science-fiction-wear

provided onstage by David C. Woolard. If "The Rocky Horror

Show"

wears a little thin in the second half and ultimately appears much

less decadent than it wants to be, it isn’t because of a time warp,

it’s because yelling "ass hole" at a performer now suddenly

seems a rather sweet and endearing gesture. Three stars.

— Simon Saltzman

The Rocky Horror Show, Circle in the Square, 1633 Broadway

800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200. $75.

Top Of Page
Off-Broadway: `Pete ‘n Keely’

Costume designer Bob Mackie should get co-star billing

with George Dvorsky and Sally Mayes in James Hindman’s "Pete ‘n

Keely." Hindman’s mini-musical valentine to singing show biz

couples

of the 1960s turns out to be a refreshing and surprisingly

unsophisticated

entertainment mainly because its stars are such a delight. But it

is the constantly changing parade of ravishing "swinging ’60s

retro attire for both Dvorsky (check those bell-bottom slacks) and

Mayes that is the show’s most constant visual joy. If you remember

the era when Sonny and Cher and Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme

appeared

either as guest soloists on variety shows like the Ed Sullivan show

or in their own musical specials, then you can guess what this show

mostly has in store for you.

Dvorksy and Mayes play Peter Barton and Keely Stevens, a bickering

estranged couple who has reluctantly reunited for a one-time-only

1968 TV spectacular. The show is set in the TV studio and, like some

previous similarly gimmicked shows, we are signaled when to respond

and applaud. It’s a stretch for us to believe that Barton and Stevens

would let their true feelings for each other surface during their

gig, but we’ll give them the benefit of our naivete, or the suspension

of disbelief. For added depth or rather shallowness, his past

indiscretions

and her boozing are casually worked into the off-stage moments.

Dvorsky, who recently played opposite Chita Rivera in "Anything

Goes," at the Paper Mill Playhouse, is a good looking, personable

and fine actor. It is to his credit that he triumphs over the

silliness

of the script. Despite all odds, he creates a rather unique and

affable

character. His poor man rendition of Elvis Presley’s "Fever,"

is as definitive a mock interpretation, as it is humorously hot.

Mayes, a real Broadway pro ("Welcome to the Club," "She

Loves Me") is a lovely performer with wonderful comic timing,

and gives delicious new life to many an old tune, particularly Paul

Francis & Sonny Burke’s "Black Coffee."

Besides the many songs (almost two dozen) from the forgotten American

song book like "Besame Mucho," "But, Beautiful,"

"Secret

Love," and Steve Allen’s "This Could Be the Start of Something

Big," they hit a peak singing the (new) pastiche "Hello,

Egypt,"

ostensibly from their first Broadway show together "Tony and

Cleo,"

a musical version of "Anthony and Cleopatra." Besides the

latter tune, Patrick S. Brady & Mark Waldrop (who also directed the

show with a wink and a flair) have contributed some funny songs and

special material. Much of the show plays out more innocently harmless

than hilarious, but the charm of the stars and the dazzle of Mackie’s

costumes carry the show farther than it might with lesser talents.

Since I’ve seen the show, the producers have added a guest star slot

with a change of performers every couple of weeks. Phyllis Diller

was a previous guest and Charo is current through March 4. Two stars.

— Simon Saltzman

Pete ‘n Keely, John Houseman Theater, 450 West 42 Street,

New York, 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200. $35 to $55.

Top Of Page
The Key

The key: Four stars, Don’t miss; Three stars, You won’t feel

cheated; Two stars, Maybe you should have stayed home; One star, Don’t

blame us.

Top Of Page
Ticket Numbers

Unless otherwise noted, all Broadway and Off-Broadway

reservations

can be made through Tele-Charge at 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200.

Other ticket outlets: Ticket Central, 212-279-4200; Ticketmaster,

800-755-4000 or 212-307-4100.

For current information on Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, music,

and dance call NYC/On Stage at 212-768-1818, a 24-hour performing

arts hotline operated by the Theater Development Fund. The TKTS

same-day,

half-price ticket booth at Times Square (Broadway & 47) is open daily,

3 p.m. to 8 p.m. for evening performances; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for

Wednesday

and Saturday matinees; and 11 a.m. to closing for Sunday matinees.

The lower Manhattan booth, on the Mezzanine at 2 World Trade Center,

is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 11

a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Matinee tickets are sold at this location on the

day prior to performance. Cash or travelers’ checks only; no credit

cards. Visit TKTS at: www.tdf.org.


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