THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW Experience: Milburn Stone Theatre

by David Bradford

Members of the cast of Milburn Stone Theatre's THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW running in North East MD through October 31.

Trying to critique the artistic qualities of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW would be like trying to distinguish subtle nuances of flavoring in a hot fudge sundae. It’s simply not the point. ROCKY HORROR’s campy and storied past is as unique as its cult following. It is an experience less about watching the show and more about watching those who are watching the show. The action on stage is merely comic fodder for the audience. Tons of additional information about this wild, often raunchy, show can be found online.

Milburn Stone’s production did not seem to disappoint even the hardcore fans. Several members of the audience came dressed for the occasion. Many had the requisite props to throw at the actors at the traditional times (don’t worry, for $5 you can purchase a bag of goodies with the objects you need). Still more seemed to know the customary slurs to be thrown out at particular characters. And a few individuals, including one who was likely seeding the crowd, had an entire second script of comical lines, often raunchier than what was on stage, which interwove with the actors’ lines. Picture hecklers on steroids. And yet, it is from that heckling that so much of the humor arises.

The ensemble cast was held together nicely by the direction and choreography of Dane Hutchinson. It was clear every cast member on that stage was likely a fan of the show. The exuberance with which they threw their hearts, souls, and often scantily clad bodies into the production showed.

Even among this talented group there were some notables. Anthony Vitalo’s portrayal of the flamboyant, sex-fueled mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter elicited quite a response from the crowd. Vocally he showed a range of styles in how well he managed all of his songs, particularly “I’m Going Home.” He also rocked those heels!

Brad and Janet, the naïve young couple who stumble into Frank N. Furter’s far from humble…or sane…abode just to use the phone, were played by Andrew Mitchell and Suzanne Stein, new to Milburn Stone but quite obviously veterans of ROCKY HORROR. Mr. Mitchell held the campiness of Brad together expertly, while Ms. Stein’s comic and singing abilities were on full display, especially in “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me”.

For pure vocal power, however, a nod has to be given to Adrienne Blair, who played the not-so-good doctor’s butler, Riff Raff. Ms. Blair has a nice set of pipes on her which brought the audience to a roar!

As for reviewer notes…only these two. Act II seems to flow much better than Act I. That could be due to the audience needing time to warm up to the concept. The other note is audio levels. The band on stage is way too loud. Despite the main characters being on mic, and the audio board operator “giving the Captain all she had”, the singers were often difficult to understand. Those ensemble members with solos who were not miked were hopelessly lost in the noise.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is an experience! What’s more, it is an experience that the audience makes. It is, however, definitely an adult show intended for ages 17 and up. While the language of the show is not too bad (the audience comments are quite another matter altogether), the show is full of innuendo, explicit sexuality of all orientations, and risqué costuming. If you are easily offended…you will be offended. But if you enjoy the occasional wild blast of irreverent adult humor, or are a part of the huge cult following, then catch this production before it is gone. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. Saturdays also have a midnight showing. There is a special Halloween showing at 8pm as well.

The Milburn Stone Theatre is located in North East, MD, less than a half mile from Exit 100 off I-95. It’s easy to get to. There is plenty of parking and it is a beautiful venue.

Book, music and lyrics by Richard O’Brien
Directed and choreographed by Dane Hutchinson
October 21 – October 31, 2011
Milburn Stone Theatre
Cecil College
1 Seahawk Dr.
North East, MD

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