BY TANYA GAZDIK, ENCORE MICHIGAN
FERNDALE – It’s hard to go wrong with a classic like The Rocky Horror Show and The Ringwald’s treatment does not disappoint.
If you’ve seen the movie at a theatre and heard/seen the audience participation elements, all of that is happening here. However, attendees are not allowed to bring their own props and instead are invited to purchase a “goodie bag with everything you’ll need to participate in the show” at the box office for $5. They are pretty serious about no outside props, with the program reading “The theatre reserves the right to confiscate any outside props brought into the theatre. Failure to comply with the theatre’s rules will result in ejection from the theatre without a refund.” I can’t say I blame the theatre for being so hardcore. They have enough of a mess to clean up every night with just the props they provide in their goodie bags — confetti, newspaper, party hats, playing cards, etc.
You don’t need props for the callout element to various lines in the show. If you don’t remember that you are supposed to yell “slut” whenever the narrator says Janet’s name or “asshole” when Brad’s name is mentioned, it’s okay because director Joe Bailey leads the charge from the back of the theatre. Even if you haven’t seen the movie at a theatre in a while, it’ll come back to you. There also is no shortage of suggested callout lines if you look online, including this one from none other than Playbill.
This is a fantastic night of fun for everyone. The cast is spectacular across the board with not a single “weak link” worth noting. For starters, the four phantoms (Jacob Boida, Manning Goldman, Tess Hannah and Ryan Kayla) warm up the audience before the show officially begins. Boida, the lead vocalist for “Science Fiction/Double Feature,” has an amazing voice. Goldman is the dance captain, which is totally appropriate because in this show as in every other one I’ve seen him in, he uses his long legs for good and not evil. Hannah, who also is Columbia’s understudy, connects with the audience in a very palpable way. Kayla is the glue that ties the phantoms together, connecting to each of them as well as the audience.
Other noteworthy performances include Dyan Bailey, who may have been born to play Magenta. She really shines in the final scenes — I won’t spoil it for those unfamiliar with what her character and her brother Riff Raff end up doing. Richard Payton may be the best and most lovable Riff Raff I have ever seen. He delivers his lines with the most perfect tone and timing.
Suzan M. Jacokes, who has an amazing stage presence, plays Dr. Frank N. Furter. I have to admit I felt a bit mixed about having a female in the lead role. But Tim Curry’s portrayal in the movie can’t be topped, so maybe having an androgynous female is meant to quell the comparisons. Transgendered Laverne Cox played the character in the movie’s remake and the gender switch was not embraced by all. I found a very emphatic blog on “Why Frank N. Furter CANNOT Be A Female.” That said, Jacokes does a good job in conveying the mix of predatory creepiness and gender ambiguity that Frank is known for.
Nicole Pascaretta makes a sweet and sympathetic Columbia. It’s hard to believe Jordan Gagnon, who plays Janet, is just out of high school. She has the aura of a seasoned actress. Kevin Kaminiski (Brad) says in his bio that he’s “no stranger to playing corny white dudes.” Indeed, he seems a natural for the role and his character’s sexual naivete is perfectly conveyed. Casey S. Hibbert does a great job tying the action together as the narrator. It’s hard not to think of Meat Loaf, who played Eddie in the original movie, but Brandy Joe Plambeck does a great job in the role belting out “Hot Patootie” and than magically transforming into Dr. Scott. Finally, Nick Yocum is fantastic as Rocky. It takes a special kind of actor to feel comfortable running around in nothing but gold underpants.
This performance is a good example of how The Ringwald always does amazing things with their small space and austere stage. It’s a testament to the ability of the actors, who must rely solely on their own talents to hold the audience’s attention. This two-act, two-hour show elicits many laughs and holds the audience’s attention from beginning to end.