The Rocky Horror Show (Review)

NKU production of campy musical never quite lifts off

Midway through The Rocky Horror Show, the title character — a muscle-bound, golden-haired love child manufactured in a lab — says, “I feel that all is not well here. ... I have a feeling of foreboding.” Rocky is assessing his situation with the sweetly naive Janet, not critiquing the production in which they're performing at Northern Kentucky University. But his observation applies.

While NKU’s staging of this campy show about intergalactic transsexuals from a forbidden planet seeking orgiastic satisfaction on earth is full of flash and trash, it’s missing the sustained energy and polish that should make Rocky Horror a 90-minute funhouse of crazy tunes and sci-fi clichés able to crank up audiences into a frenzy.

Brendon North (pictured) gives mad scientist Frank-N-Furter the diva treatment the role requires — corset, mesh stockings, high heels and all — and he’s got a fine voice. Drew Davidson plays the dimwitted (but good-looking) “monster,” who’s anything but a horror, and his vocals make the grade, too, as do those by Tim Hein, Frank’s quirky hunchbacked assistant, Riff Raff.

I liked the stentorian gravitas that Grayson Wittenbarger brought to the narrator, full of obvious pronouncements about the characters’ many predicaments. As the beleaguered young lovers Brad and Janet, Jeremy Long and Ellen Kahne can certainly sing the songs, but there’s precious little chemistry between a pair whose repressed feelings are supposed to be surfaced in Frank-N-Furter’s mad laboratory of sexual release.

The production needs polish — choreography and lighting both had too many ragged moments — but it’s evident that director Michael Hatton assembled lots of creative energy for this show. In particular, costumes (by student designer Amy Rawe) and sound effects (Kevin Havlin) were well executed.

But “dreaming it” isn’t enough, as Frank, tells us: You have to “be it.” And this Rocky Horror just didn’t have “it.”

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, presented by Northern Kentucky University, continues through Nov. 7. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.
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