Lets face it: Sex sells.
Thats why for the fourth year in a row, about 1,500 tickets will be sold to some of Durangos most raucous crowds for the annual onstage debauchery that is The Rocky Horror Show at the Henry Strater Theatre.
And in no way do I mean to imply that theres anything remotely wrong with the sex part. For almost 40 years, the stage show and its famous movie spinoff have set the theatrical standard for over-the-top raunch. Our local version, creatively directed again by Jenny Fitts-Reynolds, does the original justice and should be on the cant-miss list of Durangos cultural elite.
Any version of Rocky starts and ends with Dr. Frank-n-Furter. Thanks to Tim Curry, if you cant do Frank, you cant do Rocky Horror. Fortunately, Chad Riddles nails it. No role in Rocky can be done halfway; it takes an absolute commitment by each and every actor, and if Frank isnt sizzling, disaster ensues. Riddles is confident, bold and utterly shameless as Frank, and thats what carries the show. Its his third year in the lead role, and practice has made perfect.
The rest of the cast is just as strong, from top to bottom. Rodney Golberg has been Riff Raff in every Durango production, Charles Britton is the best stage Brad that Ive seen and even the house phantoms (who occupy Franks castle, done in the decor of a 50s-style diner) are at the top of their game. Phantoms Rachel Gressler and Alyse Neubert are both former Janets, so theres no shortage of onstage experience. They, with their male counterparts Erik Anderson and Jin Ghun, are noticeably more energetic and polished than previous chorus members.
The cast has learned to play off each other so well, and musically, its the best ever the whole cast has a musical theater background, Riddles said last week between rehearsals.
The mostly local cast is beefed up with the addition of Los Angeles-based actresses Rebecca Mason-Wygal as Janet (first time) and Amanda Musso as housemaid Magenta (for the second year). Both found Durango as cast members in the Durango Melodrama and both jumped at the chance to come back.
You dont get many opportunities to do such an outrageous show too far is just the beginning, said Musso, who earlier this month shot a pilot with Cedric the Entertainer and appeared in an episode of ABCs Modern Family before taking a three-week getaway for Rocky Horror.
While Musso concentrates most of her efforts on television and film, Mason-Wygal is a full-time stage actress. Shes got a serious set of pipes and brings real professionalism to her critical role.
Again, because theres so much interaction and up-close contact with the audience, its imperative that the cast never gives up on a dance step or a note. Mason-Wygal, Riddles and Britton set the pace, and the rest follow in perfect step.
Not to be overlooked is the in-house band led by Helen Gregory, which is a major improvement over Rocky Horror productions that use piped-in music. The pianist is joined by Travis Dalenberg on guitar, Jesse Ogle on bass and drummer Arleigh Johnson.
As always, and to protect the historic Henry Strater Theatre, audiences are prohibited from bringing their own props, which are a part of the Rocky Horror experience. Audiences are encouraged to dress in costume, but instead of water pistols and toast (would you want to clean that up?), prop bags filled with lower-impact items are sold for $5 each.
The local Rocky Horror Show is a professional production. Cast and crew members get paid for their considerable efforts, but no ones getting rich.
I have much stronger reasons to do this than for a paycheck, Mason-Wygal said.
Its my favorite show of all time, but Id never done it. We rehearse with our clothes off and Chads in platform boots Ive never had a better time in my life.