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Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show

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When it comes to the film and theatre phenomenon known as “Rocky Horror,” there are those who belong to the cult of knowledgeable fans and those who are clueless virgins. (Those in between are only in limbo on the way to attaining cult member nirvana.) The Old Globe Theatre’s outrageous, exuberant current production welcomes both ends of the Rocky spectrum. Diverging from San Diego theatre’s usual atmosphere of restraint, it caters to the fans who attend in costume, sing along with the songs, dance in the aisles, and heckle the characters. Newbies find themselves morphing into the mix by the end of the fourth number, “The Time Warp,” slapping their knees together and performing pelvic thrusts with the best of them. (Directions are in the program.)

 

This is not a G-rated experience. Classify it closer to R, with the steamy sex scenes done in defined shadow and the potty-mouth language of both the script and the hecklers. You have been warned. If you cannot enjoy the party, stay home.

 

But you would miss one great time, thanks to James Vasquez’ valiant direction; JT Horenstein’s flashy musical staging and choreography, complemented by Donyale Werle’s many-splendored scenic design; a zealous onstage rock band, and an extraordinary, body-beautiful cast obviously capable of musical, physical and verbal gymnastics and tantalizingly wrapped in Emily Rebholz’s dazzling costumes.

Richard O’Brien’s book muddles silly sci-fi and adds a gothic twist, or perhaps it is the other way ‘round. Think Mary Shelley meets Boris Karloff. Do not think much, because this is not a deep or logical story. There is a castle in the darkness, inhabited by an alien pseudo-scientist transvestite, Frank n’ Furter, his lusty, scrapping followers, and a naïve newly engaged couple, Brad (a convincing Kelsey Kurz) and Janet (a compelling Jeanna de Waal), stranded on a dark and stormy night. Best to let the music and the movement take you on the preposterous journey.

Like any good trip, this one features some off-road exploits. The first show-stopper belongs to Columbia (a lithe and melodic Nadine Isenegger), whose tap interlude adds another dimension to time warping. Another one belongs, hands down, to Rocky (a sculpted and slyly shy Sydney James Harcourt), the delicious hunk ‘a man whom Frank ‘N’ Furter (Matt McGrath) and his spooky staff created in the castle lab.

David Andrew Macdonald, as Narrator, highlights the road less traveled with punchy ad-libs and easy nods to the cheery-jeerers; Laura Shoop does the formidable Magenta proud; and Jason Wooten adds some extra malevolence to Riff Raff. Andrew Call’s Eddie grants a noble nod to Elvis. Matt McGrath’s Frank ‘N’ Furter is a bit overwhelmed (Tim Curry set the bar quite high), but his character has grand growth potential with this robust staging and courageous cast.

Be sure to cough up the three bucks for the kit sold in the lobby. Cult members will know what to do with the items inside the bag, and even first-timers will not be left out in the dark and stormy night.

Richard O’Brien’s “The Rocky Horror Show” plays through November 6 at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.
Performances: 7 pm Tues-Weds; 8 pm Thurs-Sat; 7 pm Sun.  Matinees on Sat. at 4 pm and on Sun. at 2 pm.  No performance on Nov. 1.  Special performance with costume ball on Oct. 28 at 7:30 pm.
Ticket prices start at $29, with discounts for full-time students, patrons 29 years and younger, seniors and groups of 10 or more.
Reservations: www.TheOldGlobe.org or by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE.

 
 

Spotlight

Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”

ABOUT ELLEN RICHARD

Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.