Rocky Horror time warps The Old Globe

by David Dixon

rocky horror

In The Old Globe’s production of “Richard O’ Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show,” don’t be surprised to see an audience member dressed up as the famous fictional transvestite, Frank ‘N’ Furter. In fact, don’t be shocked if there are young children dressed up as characters from the cult classic phenomenon. This is the first indication it is not another typical day in the land of sophisticated theater.

Here is a brief synopsis for “Rocky Horror” virgins. Janet (Jeanna de Waal) and Brad (Kelsey Kurz) are a couple that represent the epitome of uncool. They speak in a dialect that feels dated in the 1950s. After their car breaks down, Brad and Janet go to a creepy castle hoping to get some much-needed aid, but instead meet an abnormal scientist who, in the words of the narrator (David Andrew Macdonald), takes them on “a night out they were going to remember for a long time.”

Before the official opening of The Old Globe’s interpretation, it looked like San Diego’s night of dazzling entertainment was going to be a colossal failure. The original director left the production because of “creative differences.” If that was not bad enough, the lead performer quit because of personal controversy.

Despite the controversy, it turns out “Rocky Horror” is a lot of fun. The new director, James Vasquez, gives legions of fans what they want, while adding more than enough flash to the material.

Matt McGrath is now the flamboyant Frank, and he dominates the stage every chance he gets. A hilarious actor with the singing voice of a rock sensation, McGrath puts his own stamp on the iconic character.

Audience members can participate in the action by buying an affordable prop bag, which includes a section of The San Diego Union-Tribune, a mini flashlight, a balloon and even some cards that can be used in musical numbers such as “Over at the Frankenstein Place” and “I’m Going Home.” The brave can yell politically incorrect lines during crucial moments, but certain cast members, such as the fearless McGrath, will comedically insult the gutsy souls right back.

Donyale Werle’s scene design is outrageous, as any production like this would require. Most of the misadventures take place in Frank’s laboratory, which looks like something between a horror movie set and a raunchy swingers’ club.

Although it has been a while since rock music played at The Old Globe, the orchestra could not be better. The band, which includes several acoustic guitarists, a drummer and a keyboardist, is onstage virtually the entire performance and its sound makes the song “Time Warp” as cool as ever.

If this does not sound like a crowd-pleaser, then what does? As long as patrons have a small idea of what they are getting themselves into, “Rocky Horror” will continue to gain more avid supporters while continuing to satisfy the veterans.

Of course “Rocky Horror” is not a subtle piece of art, but it is a total blast. There’s nothing to stop anyone from taking a “jump to the left, and then a step to the right.”

Tickets and information about “Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show” can be found at theoldglobe.org.

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