A DUAL CRITICS 1904 MUSIC HALL REVIEW
Yes, Rocky is back in town thanks to the 1904 Music Hall and show sponsor Alexander Dental. It opened Oct. 31, 2017, with additional performances scheduled Nov. 3, 4, 10, and 11. Tickets are available at 1904musichall.com and the venue’s Facebook page.
We attended the performance on Nov. 4, and found the show just as exciting as our previous experiences with The Rocky Horror Show.
The show has an interesting history. Richard O’Brien wrote the musical, which debuted in London in 1973. During the next six years, the London-based production was staged in a number of theatres for almost 3,000 performances, but when it debuted on Broadway in 1975, it bombed.
Hollywood made it into a movie in 1975 with well-known stars Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick, and Susan Sarandon. The critics didn’t like it, and it looked like a loser. However, after a New York City theatre selected it for a midnight screening, the film attracted enthusiastic crowds and was soon available in over 250 film houses throughout the nation.
Fans began to mimic the actors, echoing their lines and using props that included newspapers, popcorn, and water pistols to enhance their participation. In Jacksonsville, insatiable fans flocked to the San Marco Theatre on Saturdays at midnight for years to participate in this ritualistic behavior.
The film holds the record for the longest running film release in history as it is still frequently shown at theatres, particularly around Halloween. And uncounted numbers of fans doubtless continue to play the DVD at home and dance to “The Time Warp.” Again. And again.
The 1904 show is opened by Mistress of Ceremonies Sailor Cher who is a Rocky regular and hails from St. Augustine. She was dressed in attention-getting attire, and invited Rocky newbies (first timers) to come on stage. Several fearless guests responded and competed for prizes by imitating various animals. The goat won, although the chicken was quite good.
The show was directed by Samuel Fisher with musical direction by Stefanie Baston-Martin and choreography by Amber Daniles. The excellent band included Chris Poland (Drums), Tom Bennett (Keyboard), Damon Martin (Bass), Stefanie Baston-Martin (Piano), and Brett Norton (Guitar).
In the role of the Narrator, Everette Street opened the show. Andrew Phoenix and Jessica Alexander portrayed the virginal Brad and Janet, who find themselves stranded on a stormy night and seek help and a telephone at Dr Frank-N-Futer’s castle. Jessica Alexander has appeared as Janet a number of times and we can rightfully say she owns the role. Both have excellent voices. They are greeted at the door by Riff Raff, played by Jimmy Alexander. He has appeared as Rocky a number of times in the past, but wanted a different role in this production, and is super as Dr. Frank’s right-hand man.
The mad scientist Dr. Frank-N- Furter is played by Blake Michael Osner. He’s appeared in the role many times and has perfected it; no one else even thinks of trying out for it. Blake is over the top in this role. He sings, dances, lusts, and terrorizes in a campy and compelling performance. Seeing the outfits he wears is worth the price of admission.
Transvestite Frank has a far-reaching sex drive, and has created a human boy toy for himself in his laboratory. Rocky, sporting golden bleached hair and dressed in a snappy gold Speedo, is beautiful and, as performed by David Lee Redding, can also really belt out a song.
Frank does have multiple other sexual interests, who include the wicked Columbia (Ilana Gould) and Magenta (Linzy Marie Lauren). His castle also shelters the Phantoms, a titillating group of fittingly dressed Frank-N-Furter devotees who are part of the scenery at the beginning as they form an arch as an entrance to the castle. Later they are all over the place, on and off the stage as they dance, sing, and mingle with the audience. This wild group of performers includes Jillian Poland, Noah Bennett, Kylie Kall, and Abby Gomez.
Kudos go to the designer of the light show, it is electric choreography par excellence. Kudos go as well to the energetic cast members who clearly reveled in their roles.
If you planning to see the show, don’t bring Rocky Horror props with you – you can purchase everything you need packed in a bag at the door. The 1904 Music Hall is an excellent venue for this rousing production set in the Urban Core.