REVIEW: Carnegie’s “Rocky Horror” is Electrifying and Outrageous

MAGNETIZING! SEDUCING! TANTALIZING! WOW! This play is engaging from the moment you walk in the theatre. It is an amazingly professional production, full of (optional) audience partici.....pation.

MAGNETIZING! SEDUCING!  TANTALIZING! (I loved it–can you tell? I just bought tickets to see it again!)

by Sherri Ogden Wellington

WOW! This play is engaging from the moment you walk in the theatre–if a wee bit different from any play that you may have seen.  It is an amazingly professional production, full of (optional) audience partici…..pation.

First, I highly recommend audience participation bags. They are available to purchase ($10) in addition to your ticket (including an engagement ring, a newspaper, a flashlight, a party hat, confetti, etc. with instructions on when to use each.) Next, the “Phantoms” (aka the six most unusually dressed Ushers ever: Evan Blust, Brian Cheung, Kristen Das, Claire Dillon, Ian Timothy Forsgren and Annika Jonker) play “Never Have I Ever” with the audience. Sexual references abound. “Virgins” (those who have never seen the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show) go up in front to compete on who can make  the best organismic vocalizations. Only then after the perfunctory speech by the Producer, Tyler Gabbard (who is also the Scenic and Video Designer), does the actual play begin.

The History of Rocky Horror

The play is based on a 1975 movie, based on a 1973 musical, which became a cult hit initially in NYC before gripping the nation. This humble writer was on the West Coast in the late 1970s and began attending the midnight shows regularly for years. Many of the audience members dressed  like the characters, talked back to the characters,  brought  props to enhance the experience (example: squirt water guns when it rains,  using a newspaper to cover their heads like Janet, used a lighter when Brad and Janet sing “There is a light”, etc.). We told the characters to what to do before they did it (‘kick the tire, Brad”). Nearly 40 years later, generations have watched and have been enthralled with it.  It is the longest-running theatrical release in film history.

The Rocky Horror Show is considered a horror/musical/comedy. Richard O’Brian (an actor) wrote the music, book, and lyrics. Jim Sharman collaborated with O’Brian to write the musical and the screenplay. The show is a parody of the science fiction movies of the 1930s-1960s while also paying homage to them.  Sexual enjoyment and excessiveness is added to the mixture to make this show totally captivating.

It is just a step to the left, then a step to the riiiiiiight. Put your hands on your hips. Then bring your knees in ti-i-ight.  It is the_________________

If you know how to fill in the blank, then you don’t need to read the following paragraph about the plot, so skip to why this is a “must see.”

The Plot of Rocky Horror

The basic plot is that a newly engaged couple of high moral characters (Janet Weiss – Caroline Rakestraw and Bran Majors – Tommy Sanders) get a flat tire at night in the middle of nowhere.  They go to the nearest place to get help. This happens to be a mansion where aliens from Transsexual, Transylvania are having an unveiling of a creature (Rocky – Ethan Kuchta)  designed only for the sexual pleasures of the leader (Frank “N” Furter – Dusty Ray Bottoms).  A previous try at a perfect sexual creature by Frank was  Eddie (Sean Miller-Jones) who was almost loved by Columbia (Tommie Lea). Eddie has an uncle who tries to find him (Dr. Scott – Sean Miller-Jones) but Frank “N” Furter already has killed Eddie before Scott arrives at the mansion. 

Meanwhile the poor innocent couple are duped into discovering  that they enjoy physical pleasure.  Unfortunately, the butler (Riff Raff – Kyle Taylor)  and maid (Magenta – Sam Evans) who are also from Transexual, Transylvania have been told by their superiors back home that their leader had gone too far and had to be eliminated.  They kill the leader and his minions.  You know, a normal, run of the mill, plot.

A Narrator (Pam Kravetz) interjects throughout the play to explain in more detail what is actually occurring.  Back in the day, she would have been bombarded with, “Boo, boring” etc. from the audience. But I guess, when one actually listens to her, the play makes much more sense.

So you know a little of the history of the play.  You know the plot.  You know that there is some craziness going on here.  But what makes this particular adaptation worth going to? Well, let me tell you!

Why Rocky Horror is a Must-See

* The Acting! 

Well hello, Dusty Ray Bottoms, aka Frank “N” Furter.  How gorgeous are they?  Yikes.  How they slide across in those 4” heels is beyond this writer’s imagination but what man or woman couldn’t find this performance breathtaking. Their voice and attitude are both sexy and entrancing.  Brad and Janet are perfect!  They are exactly who they are meant to be…clueless, innocents who discover sexual pleasure. 

It is particularly delightful to find Columbia (Lea who also plays an usherette) so charming and vulnerable.  Magenta (Evans who also plays an usherette) brings energy and an incredible voice to an otherwise boring play.  Just kidding!  She makes everything just a little more fun!  Riff Raff is the foil, aka the downer.  The Narrator’s lovely burgundy suit with eyes and neck bedazzled makes the monologue interesting. Eddie dances in instead of riding a motorcycle which works surprisingly well. Miller-Jones’ voice and dancing rivals Meatloaf’s.  His Dr. Scott was equally impressive. Now let’s get to Kuchta.  He goes beyond acting in his gold wrestling suit.  He is not only a fabulous actor but how did he get those biceps?  This writer has not seen muscles like that only on TV.  Goodness, Kuchta!

*The Direction, Choreography and Stage Management

Eric Byrd, also the Director, & Greg Hellems, Movement Coordinator, make the choreography spectacular. Those Phantoms are all over the place and several of the main actors go into the audience, as well. One especially notices this during the scene where Kuchta puts Rakestraw on his shoulders twice and picks her up. But there are too many scenes to mention where the actors are nimble and glide together in magnificent union. Only with people like Production Stage Manager Michael Hamburg and Assistant Stage Manager Chloe Caudill can a production like this occur. They all show genius in making  this fast paced, technically complicated show what it is.

*The amazing band and sound

There is a live band behind the scenes! (Keyboard/Conductor: Steve Goers, Drums: Brian Malone, Guitar:  Joel Greenberg, and Bass:  Bill Jackson and Matt Zory) They are flawless. Sound Designer, Mia C. Teboe has to deal with all of the activity, yelling (from the Phantoms) and the audience’s reaction to everything around them.

*The singing

The actors harmonize beautifully and are all strong singers.  It is impossible to decide whose voice is strongest.  All have range and beauty.  The songs that stick in this writer’s head include “Damn it, Janet,” “The Time Warp”  (of course), “Hot Patootie” and “Touch-A-Touch-A Touch Me”. I have loved these for over 40 years!  The tunes must be catchy!

*The sex! The humor!  

Intimacy Coordinator , Sarah Summerwell, has her hands full in working with the actors.  The actual sex scenes are projected behind the screen and are hilarious!  You have to see it to truly appreciate it.  

*Scenic and Video Design

Tyler Gabbard is incredibly creative.  Images are projected onto a string curtain which allows for enhancement of the general ambiance. Scenic Carpenters, Nathan Neorr & Jack Murphy, Scenic Painter is Rae Kuhn, make an almost art deco background.  An illusion occurs  when an actor comes forward from the curtain.  It is almost surreal.  


Designer Julie Cowger and special shout-out to Spotlight Operators, Julis Kock and Maria Schlaechter, help make the magic happen. The stage has solid lights surrounding it like a giant rectangle which enhances the audience’s experience. Coordination of the lighting is especially  important in this play since the actors can be anywhere at any time (in back of the stage curtain, on stage to the left, on stage to the right, in the audience, etc.).

*The costumes

The clothes are so much fun!  Costume Designer Jeff Shearer and Wig Designer Candace Leyland think outside the box. The clothes range from the 1960’s  stodgy and  boring (Brad and Janet’s wardrobe) to the dramatic, sexy and flamboyant (everyone else!).  How does Eddie’s blood get on Frank-N-Furter’s lab coat after he dismembers him?  Only Fortner knows!

What better way to end the show than to have the audience get up and do the Time Warp with them?  SO FUN! SO ENGAGING!

Get Tickets to Rocky Horror NOW

Escape reality today  and see The Rocky Horror Show at The Carnegie. You will want to see it more than once.

The Rocky Horror Show performances:

  • Saturdays at 7:30 pm: June 22 & 29, July 6, 2024
  • Sundays at 3:00 pm: June 23 & 30, July 7, 2024
  • Fridays: June 28 will be at 11:59 pm and  July 5th will be at 7:30 pm

To get tickets, go to:

Tickets are reasonably priced starting at only $18! For Mature Audiences.

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