Thirty-eight years after it first hit the stage in London, The Rocky Horror Show remains a textbook example of style over substance. We don't really care about straight arrows Brad and Janet and why they're unwittingly plunged into a wackedout world of sex-obsessed alien transvestites. No, Brit actor/writer Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show is a (mostly) visual and (kind of ) aural spectacle of leather and mascara counterculture, a camp, B-movie middle finger to traditional theater and traditional gender.
The Old Globe's Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show is very much in that spirit. Its rousing rebelliousness, garters and corsets and multimedia special effects excusably overpower the story. Throw in some kinetic choreography, a crack band and a couple of crowd-pleasing performances (in particular Matt McGrath's strutting Frank N. Furter), and both Rocky cultists and horrified tourists are bound to leave titillated and entertained.
The in-theater sound quality isn't always up to the fast-paced vocalizing, and years of Rocky Horror assimilation into our pop culture minimizes the show's shock value. But this production, smartly directed by James Vasquez, is too likable to dismiss. Then there's the audience around you: You might have a cross-dresser seated in your row, or maybe just a fan bearing a glow stick who knows how to dance “The Time Warp.”
The show runs through Nov. 6 at the Old Globe Theatre. $29 and up.
Two women—one a liberal sophisticate, the other a conservative fanny-packer—waiting 90 minutes in an airport lounge for a plane and striking up a conversation is all that happens in San Diego Rep's Walter Cronkite is Dead. Well, it's almost all that happens. That the very strained conversation becomes if not a friendship then at least a realization of mutual respect is the result of solid performances by Ellen Crawford and Melinda Gilb. What might have been static dramedy thankfully is not.
It runs through Oct. 16 at the Lyceum Theatre, Downtown. $37 and up. sdrep.org
Odyssey: Homer's epic poem is given a contemporary, and local, treatment in a production done in collaboration with the Old Globe Theatre's southeastern San Diego Residency Project. Opens Sept. 30 at the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $15. oldglobe.org
Trailer Park Queen: A one-woman show by storyteller and spoken-word artist Teresa Gunn, Oct. 1 only at San Diego City College's Saville Theatre, Downtown. Donations asked. musiciansforeducation.org
The Marvelous Wonderettes: Tunes from the '50s and '60s power this musical surrounding the Springfield High School prom. Through Oct. 1 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. $22-$50. moonlightstage.com
A Totally Wicked Revue: This concert-style revue features compositions by composer / lyricist Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked”). Through Oct. 2 at the Star Theatre in Oceanside. $8-$12. startheatre.biz
Edward II: A cast of 14 plays multiple roles in Christopher Marlowe's classic drama of power and passion. Through Oct. 2 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. $20-$45. diversionary.org
Little Shop of Horrors: Seymour makes a Faustian bargain with a mean, green, man-eating plant to provide fresh meat in exchange for money, fame and the love of his life. Produced by Cygnet Theatre Company, it runs through Oct. 2 at The Old Town Theatre. $34-$59. cygnettheatre.org
Mame: Lyric Opera San Diego presents Jerry Herman's memorable musical about flamboyant Auntie Mame and her wide-eyed nephew Patrick. Through Oct. 2 at the Birch North Park Theatre. $32-$52. lyricoperasandiego.org
Thom Pain: Will Eno's one-man show, an off-Broadway hit, makes its San Diego premiere. Through Oct. 2 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. $24-$36. newvillagearts.org
How the Other Half Loves: Jim Caputo directs Alan Ayckbourn's drawing-room comedy. Through Oct. 8 at Scripps Ranch Theatre. $22-$25. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy come to life in Jon Jory's stage adaptation of the 1813 novel. Through Oct. 8 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. $14-$16. onstageplayhouse.org
Fat Pig: Neil Labute's dark comedy about the American obsession with body image and weight. Through Oct. 9 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. $13-$15. patioplayhouse.com
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: San Diego Musical Theatre presents the MegaMix version of the popular musical. Through Oct. 9 at Lyceum Theatre, Downtown. $30-$60. sdmt.org
Lend Me a Tenor: Ken Ludwig's Tony-winning comedy of mistaken identity is set in the world of opera in the 1930s. Through Oct. 9 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. $32-$49. northcoastrep.org
Walter Cronkite is Dead: Two women of opposing political dispositions find themselves stranded together at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., in this comedy by Joe Calarco. Through Oct. 16 at the Lyceum Theatre, Downtown. $37 and up. sdrep.org
Man of La Mancha: In this staging of the Broadway musical that gave the world “The Impossible Dream,” the actors are also the musicians. Through Oct. 30 at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido. $44-$47. welktheatersandiego.com
Somewhere: A family's dream of being in show business collides with the filming of “West Side Story” in their downtrodden neighborhood. Through Oct. 20 at the Old Globe's Sheryl & Harvey White Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$75. oldglobe.org
miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Nov. 6 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. $28-$58. lambsplayers.org
Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show: Brad, Janet and, most importantly, Dr. Frank N. Furter return to the stage 38 years after a memorable debut in London and a film adaptation. Through Nov. 6 at the Old Globe Theatre, Balboa Park. $29 and up. oldglobe.org
Shotgun Wedding Anniversary: How else can a miserable 25-year marriage end but in murder? Presented by Mystery Cafe, it's ongoing at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. $59.50, including dinner. mysterycafe.net