Contagious Cheese—A Review of the AT&T Performing Arts Center “The Rocky Horror Show”
by The Late Mitchell Warren
The Dallas Ebola Virus Performing Arts Center Presents “The Rocky Horror Show” was a great time, complete with Ebola virus scares, lots of uncomfortable bumps and blocks in the men’s restroom, and of course dildos and penile imagery galore during the wild production. It was an all-ages family affair, from the barely 18-year-olds in front of us, to the large population of baby-boomers who looked less than scandalized to see so many proud fake-boob shimmying trannies.
We arrived early with friends and were delighted to see we weren’t the only ones comfortable enough to dress naughtily for the affair, myself with a Cabaret top hat and my hot date in full Dr. Frank-N-Furter makeup. I envied all the Brads and Janets in the audience, not dressing conservatively as a gag, but merely because that’s what respectable people wear at a classy play—which only seemed to provoke the cast of painted face musicians, slutty gender-bender extras, and of course, a cast of very colorful actors who worshiped the celluloid Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick appeared on.
The Wyly Theater in Dallas is in and of itself a bit of a freak, featuring a moveable interior that allows transformation of the stage area into virtually anything. This allows a great number of the audience to actually be part of the stage, up close to all the action, and serve as living props, which the cast can molest, harass and smack around at will.
A production like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, loaded with excessive cheese and acting garlic, lends itself to this type of small budget event. There is no need to have cars when the extras can simulate all the moving parts, Monty Python style. There’s no need to fret over recreating the seduction scene perfectly, when it’s much funnier to just throw a giant blanket over the audience and have us scream and writhe underneath, creating an interactive sex farce. All the extra budget on a fancy stage instead goes to the costuming, the music, and of course the giant mechanical phallus entrance complete with appropriately timed shooting confetti, because why the hell not?
Sure enough, cast members were feeling frisky that night and did take time out to fall over on audience members, using us as human counters and beds while they spanked each other, and making sure most everyone was bumped by a glittery dildo, or lap danced by a buff blue-faced dude, or motorboated by a pair of happy boobs—the luckier ones got actual boobs, a few had to be content with empty pointed bras of very buff men.
It was a relief to see that, and not see such an intimate and bawdy production toned down for paranoid Ebola Virus germaphobes like yours truly. At least, if I’m going to die now, I’ll die giddy with the memory of Janet staring at me, inches away from my face as she got spanked by Frank N Furter, all the while assuring me she had planned to save her virginity for her husband but failed epically. All I could do was nod in understanding, because there wasn’t room to do much else. Much to my relief, my date sitting on the aisle seat and my friends on the back row suffered a greater harassment-per-minute average than I, who had safe VIP seating in the middle, as well as a goatee and top hat, therefore looking just conspicuous enough to blend into the bizarre scenery.
The new Frank N Furter brought a Gaga-ist sensibility to an iconic character and succeeded in presenting an alpha bitch persona, perfectly capable of breaking the fourth wall and building it up again, and smashing a perfectly good guitar for no apparent reason.
I also loved watching the rows of Rocky Horror groupies dancing to the Time Warp. This is why people write absurd musicals, so they can lay back and see the fruits of their labor sucked down like an appletini. The fact that the play had much more simulated sex acts than the movie ever suggested is a testament to just how much Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien have warped American burlesque culture and created a monster that just keeps growing in size and perversity..
What I will truly remember the most from this night of free-clowning, is how the characters tragically died in such a curiously homoerotic fashion. Never before have I ever considered the industrious idea of falling dangerously close onto someone’s crotch at the moment of death. It sure beats the non-crotch distance and loneliness of a traditional coffin pose.