Somewhere between "I know, let's stage The Rocky Horror Show next year!" and "Ladies and gentlemen, five minutes to curtain," somebody at Point Park University made a very serious, if not unforgivable, error.
It's inconceivable to me that you don't know this, but Rocky Horror, which started life in 1973 as a grungy London stage musical, became the queen of cult films in 1975, famous for its strenuous audience participation, with fans talking back to the screen as well as acting out the show in front of it. It's about a quintessential mad scientist who creates life, and the underlings and innocents who wander into his path. When I think of the '70s, Rocky Horror is one of the first things that pops to mind.
Point Park director Scott Wise and musical director Camille Villalpando Rolla have created a dazzling showcase for a radioactively talented cast -- I doubt I'll ever hear this show sung this well again -- and this should be an enormously entertaining evening.
But, to put it mildly, it ain't. To be honest, I could barely concentrate on the production because somebody thought it would be cute to let the audience pretend they were watching the film. And I don't mean a few lines shouted out; it's full-on, non-stop activity. The man seated behind me was yelling every 10 seconds, assisted by the 20 or so pages of suggested dialogue offered in the lobby by the administration. There was flash photography all around me, and I noticed at least two people recording the show on their cells. Most of this is highly illegal and all of it is just plain horrible. There were whole sections of the show I missed because I couldn't hear the actors.
My heart was breaking for the cast who had, obviously, spent weeks working on character, staging and timing only to have it obliterated in seconds by audience members who never bothered looking up from the scripts in their laps.
By the middle of the second act, the show had become an actual battle, with the cast stopping the production to shout back at the audience (how they managed to hold on that long is a miracle) ... which led the audience to turn personal in their attacks. This, really, was one of the worst evenings I've ever spent inside a theater.
The higher-ups at Point Park have one of two choices: Police the audience or cancel the production. Anything else is unforgivable.
The Rocky Horror Show continues through April 11. Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. 412-621-4445 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com
- A rocky Rocky Horror