“Rocky Horror Show” rocks the Criterion


Elizabeth May belts out the opening number and designed the costumes for the “Rocky Horror Show.”
Elizabeth May belts out the opening number and designed the costumes for the “Rocky Horror Show.” PHOTO BY NAN LINCOLN

BAR HARBOR — There was some strange stuff going on at the Criterion Theatre, Thursday night. The ratatatat of stiletto heels reverberated in the lobby. Sequined gowns, fright wigs, leather and lace bustiers and fishnet stockings also abounded at the opening of the “Rocky Horror Show.” And, that was just in the audience, and that was just the boys in the audience!

The outfits and shenanigans happening on stage were even stranger, sparklier, much, much naughtier and, quite simply, the definition of fabulous.

Most folks have probably seen the cult fave film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at one point in their lives or another, and it’s pretty certain plenty of folks in Thursday night’s audience had seen it many many times; but seeing it performed live was probably a first for the majority of the 300 or so fans who arrived at the theater with their newspapers, glo sticks, rice, toilet paper, cards, cowbells and other required props.

This familiarity, and let’s face it fanaticism, posed a real challenge for the Barn Arts Collective cast who had the temerity to turn off the projector and perform the beloved show with a real live band, real live acting dancing and singing and something close to real live X-rated punk porn.

Did they succeed in charming this judgmental audience of rice throwers and hecklers?

You bet they did.

For almost two hours, this high-energy, high-volume, highly raunchy musical show had the audience singing along, speaking dialogue along with the actors, shouting out comments — usually improper comments — and even dancing in the aisles; activities usually forbidden at a live theater show — just ask Shia Labeouf— but actually encouraged at a “Rocky Horror” event.

In truth, when the loud heckling began (an audience plant for sure) — calling lovebirds Brad and Janet nasty names and such — it seemed downright rude since the actors Carl Ferm and Brittany Parker were right there and all. But soon the rest of the audience stopped cringing and happily helped heap on the abuse.

As the couple of innocents abroad who find themselves stranded in the very weird home of transvestite Dr. Frank’n Furter, Ferm and Parker couldn’t have been more perfectly annoying with their cloying sweetness and naiveté or more fun to watch as they are seduced by the madness. Or more fun to hear as they both can belt out a tune.

Riff-Raff, the “butler,” (deliciously and archly played by Chris Tyler) who ushers the young couple into the insanity, has never looked prettier as he sashayed around the manse, looking permanently miffed about something.

Elizabeth May opens the show with a blast as Trixie the usherette singing “Science Fiction; Double Feature” then went on to teach us the “Time Warp” with help from the excellent Me’lissa Smith as the lovelorn and petulant Columbia.

As Rocky, the perfect man-boy Dr. Frank’n Furter has created in his lab, Andrew Lynch was just adorable in his gold boxers and Miley Cyrus wig.

And alternately performing as rocker Eddie, the mysterious Dr. Scott and on the keyboard and as the show’s musical director, Faith Fosset was a marvel.

Lyndsey Anderson was as delightfully seductive playing the rhythm guitar as she is in role of the Narrator who helps tie the whole cockamamie story line together.

But really, when Andrew Simon appears as the glam, glittered and gorgeous Dr. Frank’nFurter he steals not only Brad and Janet’s virginity, but the show. And, arguably, he has the best gams in the whole shebang. Costume designer Elizabeth May who has done a bang-up job throughout really outdoes herself here with Frank’s steam-punk corset, cobbled together with satin, leather straps and plumbing hardware.

Director Lindsey Hope Pearlman also does a fabulous job keeping the cast on the constant move. In fact, never in recent history of the Criterion Theatre, has the space — stage, scrims, curtains and back wall — been so well used. And filmmaker Peter Loge’s video backgrounds are just wonderful.

The stage band, a perfect union of NYC and MDI musicians, is ridiculously good, with special kudos to trumpeter Joseph Dupuis and drummer Beau Lisy — although the latter might consider lowering his cymbals a tad so the audience can see his face.

The only troublesome aspect in this whole raucously fun show is the sound. While the Criterion is a superb acoustic theater, when you start amplifying things, especially singing, the sound tends to get muddied and words get lost. This seems like a big deal, but really it’s not. The singing — especially the big chorus numbers  — is great and if one can’t exactly understand the words they are singing, you sure do get the gist. And anyway most of the audience members know it all by heart.

All in all was a great opening night for this show which continues tonight Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. and tomorrow, Oct. 31 two shows at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Nan Lincoln

Nan Lincoln

The former arts editor at the Bar Harbor Times writes reviews and feature stories for The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander.

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