Review: These Transylvanians sure know how to “Time Warp”

Talent Company revives "The Rocky Horror Show" after 15 years

Audiences should be trembling with antici—say it!—pation for The Talent Company’s current production of The Rocky Horror Show. After all, it’s been 15 years since the last live performance. And the wait was worth it. Under Christine Lightcap’s direction, this sci-fi-horror-parody is fresh and provocatively funny.

Many are more familiar with the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, starring Tim Curry as Frank-N-Furter and Richard O’Brien as his servant Riff-Raff. But the original stage musical was first produced in 1973, with book, music and lyrics by O’Brien.

John Didonna (Frank-N-Furter) wields a diva-esque dominance and sensual appeal that holds a mirror to Curry’s film portrayal. Having traveled from Florida to reunite with much of The Talent Company’s original Rocky Horror cast, Didonna is essential to the success of the production. He struts around the stage in towering heels and manipulates Brad and Janet with his mocking, come-hither voice. He owns the audience’s attention with low, sexy solos in “Sweet Transvestite” and “Going Home.” We don’t wonder why the innocent couple has been seduced because we’re too busy being seduced ourselves.

Frank-N-Furter’s slaves — I mean, servants — played by Dan Bostick (Riff-Raff), Marianna Ranieri (Magenta) and Sara Weiler (Columbia), compiement Didonna’s inescapable stage presence and vocal strength with their own skill. Bostick and Ranieri have chemistry as the playfully incestuous, yet conniving brother-sister team. Wild hair flying, they propel the pace of “The Time Warp” and later stir up trouble with Frank-N-Furter’s newest creation, Rocky, becoming the unforgiving duo that seals his demise. Weiler’s tap solo in “The Time Warp” is impressive, and her squeaking vocals and hair-raising screams are never out of character as her love, Eddie (Bill Ali), belts “Hot Patootie” for the last time.

As the naïve virgins Brad and Janet, Rob Fonda and Korrie Strodel play expert goody-two-shoes. In “Damn It, Janet,” Fonda prances awkwardly from side to side (almost slipping on the overabundance of rice), only enhancing Brad’s self-conscious ardor. After the couple has traipsed through the rain (newspaper hats, go!) to find help, they are shocked by the scene that unfolds before them. Both succumb to Frank-N-Furter’s advances with believable apprehension and curiosity. Later, Strodel’s varied vocal strength in “Touch A Touch Me” could have worked against her, but instead it conveyed both Janet’s uncertainty and eagerness to be intimate with Rocky (Michael Groesbeck). Although vocals are not Groesbeck’s strong suit, his portrayal of the dim-witted, yet beautiful Rocky is spot on.

The pit, directed by Fred Willard, powers through the musical’s old-school rock score with some exceptional sax solos. Vocals by “Lips” and Company in the opener “Science Fiction,” are some of the strongest in the show. Costumes (Jeanette Reyner) are appropriately flamboyant and true to the original concept. Perhaps the most fun are the Transylvanians, who wear colorful wigs, sunglasses and an array of hats, such as turbans, cowboy hats, party hats and top hats. The set (Steve Beebe) is uncluttered and simple — a car cut from cardboard, faux-stone walls, scenes behind the scrim. Rocky’s creation tank, the elevator doors from which Frank-N-Furter makes his entrances and the raked stage give the musical three dimensions.

You could say, however, that this cult classic has four dimensions. Audience participation is a must. Attendees should be armed and ready to chuck all the rice, toilet paper and toast they can carry into The New Times Theatre. When Dr. Scott (Gennaro Parlato) enters, fling your toilet paper rolls (not a comment on Parlato’s performance — he captures Dr. Scott’s huffy, academic persona to a T). And don’t be afraid to shout, especially when The Narrator (Tim Fox), perched over the pit stage left, begins his unnecessary and boring drivel about Brad and Janet’s adventure (“Where’s your neck?!”).

As Frank-N-Furter sings to Janet in “Planet-Schmanet,” sometimes “a little mindf*** can be nice.” And The Talent Company’s The Rocky Horror Show is the best kind.

Go see the show

What: The Rocky Horror Show, presented by The Talent Company

Where: The New Times Theatre, NYS Fairgrounds

When: Fri-Sun, Oct. 29-31, at 8 p.m.; Plus a midnight performance on Sat., Oct. 30

Tickets: $25 general admission, $23 seniors, $20 students, call (315) 479-SHOW or visit The Talent Company's website for details

Photos courtesy of

Love this review! Can't wait

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