“The Rocky Horror Show” is a raunchy, rockin’ delight

Scene from
Scene from "The Rocky Horror" show at Bucks County Playhouse

The Rocky Horror Show rocks the Bucks County Playhouse

For the sixth year in a row, Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania presents The Rocky Horror Show as its Hallowe’en offering. If you’ve ever been to The Rocky Horror Show on stage or gone to see the film version, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, you’ll have a great time. If you’ve never seen a production on stage or screen, you owe it to yourself to go! As directed by Hunter Foster and choreographed by Lorin Latarro, this is a raunchy mash-up of burlesque and sci-fi/horror, liberally sprinkled with energetic rock songs and satiric ballads reminiscent of the 1950s.

Scene from "The Rocky Horror" show at Bucks County Playhouse
Scene from “The Rocky Horror” show at Bucks County Playhouse

The show, with book and score by Richard O’Brien, still holds up well since its 1973 debut. The by-now-familiar story takes place on a stormy night in a mythical suburban every town. School sweethearts Brad (Zach Cossman) and Janet (Daisy Wright) are stranded when their car breaks down. Seeking refuge in a nearby castle, they meet transvestite and mad doctor Frank ‘N’ Furter (Kevin Cahoon) and his entourage Riff Raff (Brian Flores), Magenta (Harper Miles), and Columbia (Nevada Riley). Furter is holding a party to reveal his latest creation, Rocky (Eric Schell), a muscular blond plaything. Brad and Janet soon find themselves in an atmosphere of sexual liberty in which they abandon their conventional mores. A spectacular floor show starring Furter and the others in the castle promotes the philosophy, “don’t dream it…be it.”

The show, running a brisk 90 minutes, holds some extra treats for the audience. At each seat is a bag of props for the audience to use during specific spots in the performance. (Outside props are not permitted in the theatre). Also, after the performance, the audience (in small groups) is invited to come on stage to perform “The Time Warp” with members of the cast. Both of these extras make this Rocky Horror different from other stage versions of the show and more like attending a screening of the movie, adding to the audience’s delight.

The cast is terrific in their serious dedication to the lunatic story. Heading this spectacular ensemble is Kevin Cahoon as Frank ‘N’ Furter. Shimmying, prancing, slinking seductively across the stage in his bustier, high heels, and nylons, he is a marvelously high voltage camp creation. This is especially true in a clever shadow play with Zach Cossman’s Brad and Daisy Wright’s Janet in which he gets them to shed their inhibitions. Harper Miles and Brian Flores shine with sinister verve as brother-and-sister servants Magenta and Riff Raff, while Nevada Riley’s Columbia, the “biggest Frankie fan”, is a dizzy delight. Brandon Espinoza shines in the cameo role of bad boy Eddie, while Michael Thomas Holmes oozes authority in the dual roles of the Narrator and Dr. Scott, Brad and Janet’s teacher.

The four-piece offstage rock band provides fine backup to the onstage antics. The band is led by conductor/keyboardist William Shuler, with drummer Matt Roth, bass player Michael DiFebbo, and guitarist Frank Vasile. Scenic designers David L. Arsenault and Wilson Chin have created a shabby-elegant mansion set, eerily lit by Travis McHale. Nicole V. Moody has come up with risqué, eerie, dazzling costumes befitting the fevered atmosphere of the show.

The Rocky Horror Show
The Rocky Horror Show

It is always a delight to see as well-done a production of The Rocky Horror Show like this one at Bucks County Playhouse. It is a particular treat to see it at this time of the year. It’s a high-energy comedic treat with a superbly talented cast, eye-catching sets and costumes, and a wonderful book and score from the twisted mind of Richard O’Brien. All this and audience participation too! What’s not to like? It’s just as much fun as a science-fiction double feature! I strongly recommend you make the trip to New Hope, PA to catch this production of The Rocky Horror Show before its run ends.

The Rocky Horror Show is presented by the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania through October 27, 2019. For tickets and information, visit BucksCountyPlayhouse.org.

Allen Neuner
Allen Neuner is the theater reviewer at Out in Jersey magazine. Jersey born and raised, Allen went to his first Broadway play in 1957 and has been deliriously in love with live theater ever since. Allen has been accepted into the American Theatre Critics Association, a professional organization of theatre journalists. He has been partnered to music reviewer Bill Realman Stella, with whom he is also deliriously in love, for over 20 years. They live in an over-cluttered house in Somerville.