Amid the flourishing genre of musicals that might be called pseudo-operas, like The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, there is a smaller genre of offbeat, catchy rock musicals based on science fiction. Delgado Community College is presenting Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show, which premiered in London in 1975. The film adaptation, of course, has become a cult classic.
The Delgado production is outdoors and features a mixture of students and professional actors. Director Timothy K. Baker created a rousing, light-hearted mood and tossed in many clever touches.
Jeff Becker's set consists of a two-story gray-and-white interior. The central portion, a pair of circular staircases wrapped around an open-air elevator revolved at times to change the set. An excellent four-piece band performed on the upper level.
The play begins with an introductory song by three movie usherettes inviting the audience to a creature feature. Next, a pickup truck rolls across the grass in front of the stage. Brad (Timothy Harry Terrell) and his sweetheart Janet (Christina Ingrassia) get out. They are conventional-looking types who might have been cast by Norman Rockwell — which makes them a set-up for the weirdos they encounter. Brad sings a proposal to Janet ("Dammit, Janet"), and she accepts. A heavy rain begins.
The couple retreat to a castle they remembered passing to ask if they can use the phone, and they are ushered in by the staff: Riff-Raff (Tony Coco), Magenta (Idella Johnson) and Columbia (Shannon Flaherty). This is an unusual trio, and the castle seems more like the home of Andy Warhol than Count Dracula.
Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Christopher Bentivegna) appears at the top of the staircase, wearing a corset, fishnet stockings and high heels. He has a shaved head and tattoos from shoulder to wrist on both arms, and the staff refers to him as "Master." He is, he explains, a transsexual from Transylvania. He also is pure id, but he also has some analytical powers as shown by his scientific experiments. He is, in fact, in the process of creating life.
Rocky (Fred Washington) is an athletic creature contrived from bits and pieces spun into existence on a rotating energizer. From this point, the tale follows sexual complications involving just about everybody in every combination.
Curiously, playwright O'Brien said crossdressing was not so important in early versions of the play. The exuberantly transgendered Frank-N-Furter seems to drive all the conflicts and entanglements in Rocky Horror as it stands.
Sci-fi does make a comeback, however. Magenta and Riff Raff reveal they are from a distant planet and zap everyone with a ray gun, except a visiting science teacher (Louis Q. Barroso).
It's over the top and joyously so. The music is delightful and the singing and dancing are right on the money (thanks in part to musical director Karl Harrod and choreographer Nicole Boyd-Buckels). Johnson, Flaherty and his evil majesty Bentivegna turn in fine performances. — DALT WONK