The cast of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW at Bucks County Playhouse. (Photo credit: Mandee Kuenzle)

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW: The Tradition Continues at Bucks County Playhouse

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One of the great traditions at Bucks County Playhouse for many years was the annual production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. With the rebirth of the historic theatre (celebrating their 75th year!) the tradition was reborn, and continues this year. And I have to say this is one of the great events of the year.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is a loving spoof of the science fiction and horror “B” movies of the 1940’s through the 1070’s, enjoying a large cult following through the years of the musical and the resultant film. It tells the story of a newly engaged couple who are caught in a storm and, in need of a phone, come to the mansion/laboratory of the fiendish transvestite scientist, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, conveniently on the evening he is unveiling his new creature, Rocky.

Enough of the plot synopsis…part of the fun with this production is looking for (and finding) the references and spoofs of classic horror and science fiction films. Director Hunter Foster even adds in references to other classic films (for instance a hilarious “skating” scene from Ice Castles) which are delightful. The cast and orchestra move seamlessly from moment to moment, obviously having a great deal of fun sharing this production with a very interactive audience.

Space and an insufficient library of superlatives prevent me from mentioning everyone in this very talented cast, but each member of the ensemble was wonderful. Nick Cearley (Brad) was nerdy and innocent. Alyse Alan Louis (Janet) was sweet and devoted. Ryah Nixon (Magenta) and Jennifer Cody (Columbia) were wonderful, Nixon displaying a tremendous voice for this style, and Cody is funny and flexible, and did the tap piece beautifully. Jeremy Kushnier (Riff Raff) was appropriately deadpan until the final scenes, where his true colors were revealed. Erik Altemus (Rocky) was physical perfection, with the softer side. The Phantoms (Kathryn Allison, Sarah DeNight, Annabelle Garcia, Alex Puette) enhanced each scene they were involved in, yet not overshadowing the focus.

The final two in the cast are John Bolton (Narrator/Eddie/Dr. Scott) and Kevin Cahoon (Frank-N-Furter.) Bolton was brilliant in each segment he appeared as the narrator, keeping his frozen face and stiff body until exploding during “TimeWarp.” His focus was terrific, not losing character even with all of the things shouted from the audience. He channeled Elvis as Eddie, and channeled John Cleese as Dr. Scott…brilliant portrayals in each case. Cahoon was equally outstanding, reprising his role as Frank-N-Furter, but not repeating. I was impressed with the growth of the character, and the ease with which he commanded the stage each time he appeared.

Erik Altemus and Kevin Cahoon in a scene from THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW at Bucks County Playhouse. (Photo credit: Mandee Kuenzle)

The music in this production is wonderful…4 musicians (Sinai Tabak, Mike Defebbo, Jake Hager, Jon Ball) sounded terrific, and kept the action rolling, moving in and out of the various tunes and background music seamlessly. Chorographer Lorin Latarro developed a beautiful production as well, everyone working beautifully together. Utilizing the huge set to best effect.

Part of the fun of this production is the interactive element…veteran viewers of the movie especially have learned about the props and lines that have become a regular part of the experience. Bucks County Playhouse provides a special “Time Warp Ticket” section, where for an additional fee, audience members receive a bag with props for the show, instructions on their use, and a ticket to join the cast onstage after the show to do the Time Warp. It’s worth the extra expense…but those tickets go fast, so get them now!

This is a terrific night of theatre…the cast is wonderful, music is enjoyable, and the interactive experience makes for a very exciting night. One cautionary word…this is the musical, not the movie. Don’t get so wrapped up in your shouting at the stage that you miss this very talented cast’s performance. This is a can’t miss production.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW
Book, Music and Lyrics by Richard O’Brien
Directed by Hunter Foster
October 23 – November 2, 2014
Bucks County Playhouse
New Hope, PA 18938
Box Office: (215) 862-2121
www.bcptheater.org

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Walter Bender

Walter Bender

Walter Bender is a veteran of over 35 years performing all over the country. He attended Texas Lutheran University as a Theatre Arts and Vocal Performance major. While in college he toured much of the Southern and Western states with various acting and singing groups. He appeared briefly on radio in San Antonio and on TV in Miami while in college. Moving back to PA, he has performed in well over 100 amateur and professional theatrical productions, and directed dozens more throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Among his favorite roles are Lt. Colonel Jessup (A Few Good Men), Daddy Warbucks (Annie), and most recently he was George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Arguably his favorite theatrical memory was creating the role of Alan Frick in A Fast Train to Heaven for Bill Gottshall Productions. He is co-founder of Spring-Ford Community Theater, has served as Managing Director of 2 different theaters, Artistic Director of a third and President of another. He worked for the Delaware Valley Arts Institute, where he worked with many wonderful artists and instructors, culminating in being selected to facilitate a post-graduate course at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Currently he serves on the board of directors for dcp theatre as their Director of Corporate Communications.

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