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arts & leisure

Theatre Beat: Forestburgh's 'Rocky Horror Show' is out of this world

By Jonathan Fox
July 14, 2012

When British horror/comedy/musical 'The Rocky Horror Show' debuted in 1973, London audiences immediately declared it a smash, and its popularity skyrocketed accordingly. Crossing the pond to Los Angeles in 1974, the film adaptation quickly began production and an instant cult following was born. Today, fans worldwide have made the movie version the longest-running release in cinematic history. Having caught a midnight screening of the film in the mid-seventies, I was curious to see how the show began (on stage) and wondered aloud if audiences here in the Upper Delaware valley would embrace it, as the the curtain went up at the Forestburgh Playhouse (FBP)(www.FBplayhouse.org) this week.

Through the music, book and lyrics written by Richard O'Brien, the story centers on mad scientist/transvestite Frank 'n Furter and the inhabitants of a spooky castle in the middle of nowhere. As the plot unfolds, stranded lovers Brad and Janet (Gregory Bourke and Joyah Spangler) become embroiled in the dark, twisted (and hilarious) going-on around them, sending the couple spinning through a "Time Warp" that careens out of control, thoroughly engaging the audience throughout, with rapid fire musical numbers and dialogue that elicited spontaneous applause and standing ovations, even before the final curtain fell.

Both Bourke and Spangler have beautiful, strong voices and a firm grasp on the material, which allows them to let loose and entertain with reckless abandonment in numbers "Dammit Janet" and "Over at the Frankenstein Place" among others. Spot-on interpretations of their characters propel the story and they are met note for note by fellow actors Katie Sarno and Kyle VanZandt, who (as ghoulish servants Magenta and Riff Raff) also have wonderful vocal abilities and great comic timing. Popular local radio host Pail Ciliberto, (www.thunder102.com) narrates the zany tale from the side of the stage and the audience howled every time he interjected, as his facial expressions and observations amused.

Michael Graceffa (a stunning creation "Rocky," born of Frank 'n Furter's twisted mind) and Zachary Bencal (as early experiment Eddie) were perfectly cast and each (especially Graceffa) had moments to shine in numbers "Hot Patootie-Bless my Soul" and "Floorshow/Rose Tint my World." Kevin Confoy's cameo as UFO hunter Dr. Scott was amusing and his antics on stage were met with hoots and howls as director Larry Smiglewski and choreographer Dann Dunn's efforts enhanced the show under their creative visualization.