Local ‘Rocky Horror’ meets antici — pations

Angelica Cataldo, Entertainment Reporter

Daisy Breneman as Janet Weiss dancing and singing in the song "Rose Tint My World" where the character, Janet, is embracing the debauchery that took over her evening at Dr. Frenk-N_Furter's house.
Angelica Cataldo
Daisy Breneman as Janet Weiss dancing and singing in the song “Rose Tint My World” where the character, Janet, is embracing the debauchery that took over her evening at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s house.

Richard O’Brien’s musical “Rocky Horror Show” has been hailed as a cult classic since its original release in 1973 and after the film came out in 1975.

Since then, many adaptations of the show have been made, including a new television remake that first appeared on the Fox Network on Thursday, Oct. 20.

For its historical value and cult following, a performance of “Rocky Horror Show” has many expectations to uphold. That is why, when Charleston Alley Theatre in the Downtown Square announced their third production of “Rocky Horror Show,” I was both intrigued and skeptical.

“Rocky Horror” is a story about a young couple, Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, who are newly engaged and find themselves in a strange situation when they are stranded at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s mansion. Their evening takes an unusual turn for the worst as Frank-N-Furter reveals his secret desires and plans.

With high expectations, I attended a performance at the CAT in downtown Charleston. What makes a good performance of “Rocky Horror Show” is a talented cast that can sing and dance and is more than willing to act silly, sexy and scandalous.

“Rocky Horror Show” is also all about audience participation and energy. In this case, CAT brought all those aspects to the table. If the energy of the audience and cast is low, one can expect the show to “be the start of a pretty big downer.”

However, that was not the case for the CAT Director Marie Jozwiak, who cast the show almost to perfection. Each actor made his or her character their own but also managed to stay true to the way each character was originally written.

Actors from all over the central Illinois were cast for the various roles, including some Eastern theatre and music majors.

This cast featured the acting talents of D. Craig Banyai as the narrator; Daisy Breneman as Janet Weiss; Matthew Gerard Burns as Brad Majors; Crystal Dagerhardt as Magenta; Alyssa Hilbert as Columbia; Demetrius Johnson as Rocky; Blake Richardson as Eddie and Dr. Scott; James Tague as Riff Raff; Kali Wolf as Frank-N-Furter; and Carrie Drennan, Eric Poe, Teri Sturdyvin and Marci Swearingen as the Phantoms.

The production had a live band performing the music in the performance as well as 30 minutes prior to the show.

The set was simple, but with the space that they had, it worked well. What made a simple set and lack of stage successful was the lighting. The lighting helped draw attention away from the set and directly to the actors.

Although it was hard to hear the actors sing at times, the overall performances were great. They brought enthusiasm to the stage and made the show fun to sing and dance along to.

Tague did exceptionally well as Riff Raff and really brought the character to life. It was also very fun to see Breneman and Burns go from believable innocent college sweethearts to sultry, sweet dancers.

Hilbert portrayed Columbia and also choreographed the dance numbers. She was by far one of the most energetic actors on stage, which was appropriate for the bubbly character Columbia.

One of the more memorable aspects of the show as a whole was the encouragement for audience participation, including traditional but unscripted responses to certain parts of the script. The vulgar and hilarious callouts were as much a part of the performance as the scripted lines were.

Having a live cast react to the audiences’ shout-outs made the show interactive and exciting. Many of the actors made their way through the audience during the performance, which also added to the entertainment.

It helps to know the shout-out before attending the performance, and it also helps to have an idea of the kind of audience interaction is to be expected.

Thankfully in my case, I was very familiar with the show.

Overall, CAT did an exceptional job bringing the “Rocky Horror Show” to Charleston for a third time. It was a very appropriate show being that it is almost time for Halloween and people are anticipating the television remake.

I was highly impressed by the performance of the entire cast and live band and look forward to what CAT has in store for their next production.


Angelica Cataldo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].