Twenty-five years after playing the inimitable Frank 'N' Furter in Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show at the San Diego Rep, Sean Murray is reprising the role—with a bang—at Old Town's Cygnet Theatre, of which he is also artistic director. What's more, Murray is directing this fiercely energetic staging of a campy, gender-bending show that never gets old.
Rocky Horror isn't old but at least middle-aged, having debuted in 1973 in London. But if ever there was a musical possessing the exuberance and rebelliousness of youth, this is it. What happens in this often-produced tale of two squeaky-clean visitors to Frank 'N' Furter's "castle" is of no matter. Their presence is just a pretext for all the outrageous and still audacious song-and-dance numbers, with practically everybody in makeup, drag or underwear. Part of the fun of the Cygnet production, as at movie houses when the film screens, is that the audience is very much involved: shouting out lines, hurling insults, singing along, dressing in theme—in short, doing all the things you aren't allowed to do at 98 percent of live theater.
Murray's the centerpiece of this spectacle, but he has talented accomplices: Bets Malone, playing dual roles and lustily belting out "Science Fiction," the tune that opens and closes the show; Jacob Caltrider and Amy Perkins as the unsuspecting pair who fall under Frank's spell; the nattily dressed Jim Chovick as the show-narrating Criminologist; and absolutely Andrew Hull's scenic design, Jennifer Brawn Gittings' costumes, David Brannen's choreography and a suitably loud band.
Rocky Horror's second act drags (yeah, bad pun) and its ballads barely rise above standard Broadway hokum. But numbers like "Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me," "Sweet Transvestite" and, of course, the signature "The Time Warp" sizzle with staying power. It's worth wondering where The Rocky Horror Show might be playing in another 25 years and if Sean Murray could still get into a corset and pink sequined heels.
Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show runs through May 7 at the Old Town Theatre. $46 and up. cygnettheatre.com
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The Miracle Worker: William Gibson’s classic story of Helen Keller and her committed teacher Anne Sullivan. It runs through April 10 at the Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
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The Rocky Horror Show: You’ve seen the movie, now see the show about a couple who unwillingly stumbles upon the castle of a “sweet transvestite” and a sordid cast of characters. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through May 1 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com