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
fiction genre was a flop, as was the stage version (the original
production was a big hit), when first released, it became a cult
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
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
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
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
with currently topical news items. Cavett’s conservatively offbeat
remarks make for comforting breaks between the glittering gaudy
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
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
apprentices, as he conducts some extremely bizarre sexual and
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.
at others is as expected and anticipated as I suspect is mutual
But nothing you see out front is going to outdo the sexy
provided onstage by David C. Woolard. If "The Rocky Horror
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
800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200. $75.
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
of the 1960s turns out to be a refreshing and surprisingly
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
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
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
of the script. Despite all odds, he creates a rather unique and
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,"
Love," and Steve Allen’s "This Could Be the Start of Something
Big," they hit a peak singing the (new) pastiche "Hello,
ostensibly from their first Broadway show together "Tony and
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
New York, 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200. $35 to $55.
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
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
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
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.
Corrections or additions?
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