Give Yourself Over to Absolute Pleasure — The Rocky Horror Show

Review by Cathi Winslow, Photo by Matthew Goertz

The Rocky Horror Show, now on stage at Magnus Theatre, offers a brand new taste of this beloved cult musical. Long-time fans will see their favourite characters dancing the Time Warp in black-and-red corsets and fishnet tights on a spectacular gothic castle set with a double staircase. The singing is superb. Every solo stands out, backed by a strong ensemble and a live band led by Giustin MacLean.

If you’ve only seen the film, be prepared for a whole new experience with live actors. This story of a squeaky-clean couple who stumble into a castle full of gender-bending aliens originated in 1973 at the height of the sexual revolution. The Rocky Horror Show was a rebellious and transgressive rock musical that pushed the boundaries even further than its predecessors Hair (1967) and Grease (1971).

In the current Magnus production, Amy Sellors, a favourite on the Magnus stage, ushers us into the B-movie setting with her starry-eyed rendition of “Science Fiction/Double Feature,” later returning as the wild and world-weary Magenta. Colin Simmons and Kayla James set the perfect tone of sweetness and light as Brad and Janet, and never falter in the face of audience heckling and laughter. W. Joseph Matheson inhabits the iconic role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter with confidence and ease, and Thunder Bay’s own Spencer Hari appears as the Narrator in a series of dazzling costumes. Dean Deffett’s Riff-Raff is deliciously unhinged, and Hal Wesley Rogers as Rocky adds candour and vulnerability to his ripped physique. Chelsea Preston and Ryan G. Hinds create a sizzling chemistry between Columbia and Eddie, then Hinds returns with a startling, hilarious portrayal of Dr. Everett Scott. The Ensemble includes Josh Graetz, Michele Shuster, and Alishia Suitor, who are bursting with energy, sass, and mad dance moves.

Like the music in this production, the design is pitch-perfect. Lighting creates an eerie, otherworldly mood with delightful touches of low-budget sci-fi effects, and the costumes, hair, and makeup are glam and gruesome.

Even first-time Rocky viewers can join in the fun of audience participation by purchasing a bag of props ($4) in the lobby before the show. Savvy audience members whip out glow sticks, newspapers, and rubber gloves at all the right moments, and shout well-known callback lines at the actors on stage.

The Rocky Horror Show plays from October 18 until November 10. Art exhibit by boy Roland. More information at magnustheatre.com.