Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

‘Rocky’ Still Timely, Great Fun

Published June 1, 2017

Heads Up! This article is 5 years old.

I talked to a few young people this week who had seriously never heard of Rocky Horror. Seriously. One guy said, “Oh, yeah! I’ve seen the movie on TV at Halloween. With Elvira, right?” While I dig Elvira as much as the next man … Wrong!

Glam up and head down to the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre where The Rocky Horror Show plays through September 17. Don’t worry about whether this iconic musical about hedonism, self-discovery and self-acceptance is still a relevant or timely or pertinent piece of theater, because it’s still seriously fun.

For those of a certain age, Rocky Horror is a trip down memory lane – we were young and beautiful once, and crammed into a dingy theater at midnight. I can still dance the “Time Warp,” even though my days of doing it in six-inch platform heels may be over. Rocky Horror is now – it’s raucous, it’s campy, and a complete delight. Director Beverly Redman, who leads IPFW’s Department of Theatre, has brought together beautiful voices, lissome bodies and a touching message in The Rocky Horror Show.

Billy Dawson is interstellar as Dr. Frank N. Furter – sweetly voracious, desiring nothing more in life than everything. His voice soars and simpers, and he’s dee-double-licious. After all, in just seven days, he can make you a man. And what a man! Fort Wayne Dance Collective’s John Byrne embodies (tee hee!) Rocky in all his gold lamé glory. Byrne delivers a performance that is part peacock, part vulnerable innocence – and I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

Bob Haluska, looking a lot like Hugh Hefner, narrates and brings a touch of nutty gravity to the tale. In my day, the audience yelled “BORING!” during the narration, but he is not, and they did not. Yet audience participation is part and parcel of Rocky Horror, and there will be hecklers. Chris Rasor and Kearston Anderson (We hollered, “Virgin” 40 years ago), are Brad and Janet, the hapless heterosexuals who happen upon Frank and his merry band of … merry-makers, and who are forever changed by their experience. Audiences may be, as well.

The principal players are ably supported by 10 Phantoms who are interchangeably wedding guests, party-goers and Greek chorus. Without them, Rocky Horror is a much smaller play. With them, the show is a little bit dreamy – and a lot of gorgeous.

Music Director Holly Knott makes a quintet sound like the Tower of Power, and she clearly has guided the players in the multiple music styles Rocky Horror offers. A voice trained in musical theater is not the same as a rock n’ roll singer’s voice, but with Knott’s leadership, the singers make what’s really a huge vocal challenge sound easy. The music soars.

Stage Manager Jennifer Garrett and her team – Jensen Davis and Brittney Lynne Koza – run a tight show and will dazzle you with wonderful sound and visual effects. A big, big shout-out to all the technical team members, because The Rocky Horror Show moves with the speed of light.

Get out your top hat and cane, and make those heels work!

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