THE 1904 MUSIC HALL THEATRE REVIEW
One of the newest additions to the downtown entertainment scene in Jacksonville, Florida opened a two-weekend run of “The Rocky Horror Show”, Richard O’Brien’s classic musical, on Friday, August 14, 2015. RHS Live Productions, in partnership with the 1904 Music Hall (at 19 Ocean Street), has additional performances scheduled at 8:00 pm on August 15, 21, 22, and at 11:30 on August 15 and 22. For tickets, go to www.1904musichall.com.
We have seen a number of live Rocky shows over the years, most recently at Limelight Theatre in St. Augustine and in 2012 at the Edge Theatre in Arlington. This one has the same zany characters but in the Music Hall’s intimate setting, the characters are really up close and personal, often performing in the midst of the audience.
Rocky is directed by Erik DeCicco, with musical direction by his lovely and accomplished wife Aaron, and choreography by Jocelyn Geronimo. The fabulous band, which mingles with audience along with the cast, includes Chris Poland, Damon Martin, Tom Bennett, and Jacob Schumann.Evan Gould is the prim and proper (well, almost) narrator. Ross Fontz and Jessica Alexander reprise the major roles of the young virginal couple they previously portrayed at the Edge; that of Brad and Janet, who, finding themselves stranded on a dark and stormy night, seek help at Dr. Frankenfurter’s castle. Their voices sound better than ever. And you get to hear Juan Unzueta‘s marvelous voice as Riff Raff, Frank’s right-hand man.
In Rocky auditions in our area, no one every tries out for the role of Dr. Frankenfurter, as Blake Osner, who has done this part several times, clearly owns the role. He is a master of tongue-in-cheek humor and double entendres and sings the lyrics confidently.Jimmy Alexander is once again appearing as Rocky, Frank’s laboratory-manufactured playmate. Alexander is tanned and buff, sings wonderfully, and wears a gold tight tight bathing suit; who could ask for anything more? Frank does, however, have other sexual interests, including Magenta (Tish Nicholson) and Columbia (Chelsea Newberry).
This show has something special, with the very popular Lee Hamby appearing in two quite different roles, first as Eddie, the motorcycle guy, followed by the wheelchair-bound Dr. Scott. Hamby sings in both roles, something he is very good at doing, but hasn’t done on stage in a long time.
The Phantoms are an intricate part of the show, as they sing, dance and obey Frank’s bidding as he revels in brazen sexuality. As the show opens, they create a unique automobile composed entirely of body parts. Well, that’s got you interested! The tantalizing phantoms include Ryan Arroyo, Alix Bond, Drew Brown, Julia Fallon, Liana Gould, and Jillian Poland.
This production is partnered with ROCSTART-Rallying for Oral Cancer Support through Art (see rocstartjax.org). The show will be very interactive, but if you are planning to attend, please don’t bring personal props. ROCSTART will be selling everything you will need packed in a bag for $5.00.
As usual, Rocky, filled with quotable dialogue, is once again a terrific exercise in kitsch fun. And as usual, you can expect to see a number of authentic Rocky fans who will be dressed as their favorite characters. And we guarantee you will hear some great voices!!
This show may last forever, as every few years there is a new generation of Rocky Virgins who want to experience this happening event. The musical opened in London in 1973, and ran at several theatres for almost three thousand performances. The male half of the Dual Critics saw it there, and it was nothing like the versions you see today, as the director took a very conservative approach. The play was made into a film, with Tim Curry cast as Frankenfurter, in 1975, and was an initial flop. However, audience reception changed when movie theaters began offering it as a midnight screening. A legend was born as theatres throughout the country followed suit.
In Jacksonville, the San Marco Theatre showed “Rocky” at midnight on Saturdays for several years to many appreciative viewers, who brought their own props. When the film became available for purchase, the midnight shows faded away. When the theatre was renovated, the workers found enough rice under the stage, thrown during the wedding ceremony, to feed half of China.
So romp, rock, sing along, support a good cause, and do the world famous Time Warp dance for yourself. If you don’t know it, you will quickly learn it and love it. Rock on, Rocky!! And kudos to the director, cast, and crew for bringing us the energetic, innovative production.