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Shock fills role in "Rocky Horror'

Published Sep. 10, 2005

The old bathroom wall inscription says, "For a good time, call. . . . " Stage West Community Playhouse's summer production, The Rocky Horror Show, guarantees not just a good time, but a terrific time.

The raunchy musical might shock Rocky Virgins (people who have never seen the movie nor the show), and it might offend some, but, hey, that's part of the point. The transvestite Dr. Frank N. Furter (played to the hilt by Dane Etchings) and his band of creepy aliens from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy Transylvania are there to horrify and, well, offend.

Get into the spirit of things _ wear an outrageous costume, talk back to the actors, use the props, as most of the Saturday night audience did at Stage West _ and everything is fine.

Hip, hip, hooray for this community theater for bringing a niftily done version of this offbeat show to local audiences. It's unlike anything that's been on a local stage, and it is bringing in hordes of young people who have never darkened the Stage West door before, as well as regulars of a certain age who feel young watching it. If you check your inhibitions at the door and spring for the $5 bag of props, you'll have a night to remember.

Rocky is the tale of a couple of innocents, Janet and Brad (Dahlia Legault and Jerry Ingle), who stumble upon an intimidating castle during a rainstorm, where they meet the evil doctor, his sidekick Riff Raff, done in a sepulchral monotone by Michael Jeffrey; the maid Magenta, played with pouty malevolence by Jessica Suggs; the tap dancing Columbia (Christina Vakalopoulos); the ascot-wearing Narrator (Alfredo Rivera); and the doctor's latest creation, the muscle-bound Rocky, played with hilarious blank-faced, flat-footed naivete by Luke Gatza. There's also a swarm of Transylvanian Phantoms with Day-Glo hair and thigh-high black stockings, and that includes the fellas.

The storyline is elusive, but it doesn't matter. It's the antics both on and off stage that have built Rocky's cult status and make it a fun show. Devotees chant in unison like medieval monks in response to certain lines and actions. On Saturday, some audience remarks crossed the line. Even so, director Jan Lavin's cast members kept their composure and went on with the show.

Not everyone on stage has a strong voice, but they all do have the "look" and the moves, which are 90 percent of the show. Watch especially for Ingle's jittery high-stepping during the opening scene and Ms. Legault's unrestrained jiggling during the second act's opening number, Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me.

Etchings, fortunately, has it all _ the voice, the look, the moves, and, best of all, the attitude. The tall, angular actor strides around the stage in 4-inch platform heels with complete ease, tossing his feather boa, wiggling his bustier and curling his lip as he belts out his big numbers.

Choreographer Wahnita J. Dow does justice to the show's signature dance number, Time Warp, as well as other sequences. The show wouldn't be a show without Jan Decker's outrageous costumes. Roy Baker's sounds, especially the crackling thunderstorms, add atmosphere, as does Paul Schlobohm's lights. Musical director Wayne Raymond and his combo provide fine accompaniment.

The Rocky Horror Show isn't to everyone's taste; the parody of sex may be too much for some.

But for the free at heart, it's a hoot.