Campy Delight

DTC's raucous Rocky Horror Show shakes Wyly Theatre to its sexy core

DTC's raucous Rocky Horror Show shakes Wyly Theatre to its sexy core

Dan Domenech in Dallas Theater Center's The Rocky Horror Show
Dan Domenech anchors a stellar cast as Dr. Frank-n-Furter in Dallas Theater Center's Rocky Horror Show. Photo by Karen Almond
Cast of Dallas Theater Center's The Rocky Horror Show
The set of Rocky Horror Show is as key to the success of the show as any other element. Photo by Karen Almond
Justin Lobesco and Morgan Mabry Mason in Dallas Theater Center's The Rocky Horror Show
In case you didn't already know, Rocky Horror Show is about as sexual a production as you can see without anyone's actually getting naked. Photo by Karen Almond
Dan Domenech in Dallas Theater Center's The Rocky Horror Show
Cast of Dallas Theater Center's The Rocky Horror Show
Justin Lobesco and Morgan Mabry Mason in Dallas Theater Center's The Rocky Horror Show

The minute you walk into Wyly Theatre for Dallas Theater Center’s 2014-2015 season opener, you’ll likely notice a different vibe. Most obviously, various audience members of both genders will be dressed in bustiers, garter belts, fishnet stockings, high heels and other assorted nontraditional theater attire.

Welcome to the Rocky Horror Show experience.

Since debuting on stage in 1973, and especially following its adaptation into the Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975, Rocky Horror has earned a nonpareil cult following. So much so that it is virtually impossible to see the stage musical or film without your viewing being influenced by the legion of fans who take great glee in making themselves a part of the show through props and responses to the actors’ dialogue.

 DTC’s version of Rocky Horror Show is one of the most unusual and flat-out fun times you’ll ever have in a theater.

All of this is to say that DTC’s version of Rocky Horror Show is one of the most raucous, unusual and flat-out fun times you’ll ever have in a theater. Utilizing Wyly’s flexibility to its utmost, director Joel Ferrell and his team have created a theater-in-the-round featuring a rotating circular platform that ensures every audience member, including two sections on stage, gets maximum entertainment.

DTC also uses an inspired technique in which a videographer follows the actors around, broadcasting images of the characters in action to screens on both sides of the stage. The video isn’t necessary — everyone in the audience is close enough to see everything perfectly — but it adds a certain extra element to the campy proceedings.

If you happen to be a Rocky Horror virgin and worry that everything going on will distract you from the story, take this advice: As long as you know the basics — Brad (Alex Organ) and Janet (Morgan Mabry Mason) get lost on a dark and stormy night and look for refuge at a castle, only to find it full of a host of odd characters, led by the sweet transvestite from Transylvania, Dr. Frank-n-Furter (Dan Domenech) — you’re pretty much set.

Enjoying Rocky Horror isn’t so much about understanding the particulars of the plot as it is about letting the feeling of the show overtake you. In fact, the responses of audience members to the dialogue are so fast and furious, especially during the first act, that worrying about the plot is an exercise in futility.

Instead, just bask in all of the show’s off-the-wall parts, from the gloriously amusing songs like “Time Warp,” “Sweet Transvestite” and “I Can Make You a Man” to ludicrous props like water guns, confetti and toilet paper rolls used by the audience throughout. (DTC sells prop kits, including all of that and more, for $10 in the lobby.)

And that’s not to mention all of the overt risqué elements in the show, making it as sexual as possible without any actual nudity. If you couldn’t already tell, it’s best to leave your inhibitions at home with this one; anyone who can’t risks not only being offended unnecessarily, but also missing out on a great party.

None of this would be nearly as enjoyable, of course, unless the actors were as fully committed to the insanity as they are. Domenech is a worthy successor to Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-n-Furter, performing the role with abandon. Organ and Mason make their straight-laced characters undergo a transformation that has to be seen to be believed.

Other standouts include Chamblee Ferguson as Riff Raff, Liz Mikel in dual roles of Eddie and Dr. Scott, and J. Brent Alford as the narrator. Also hugely important to the show is the performance of the band Foe Destroyer, last seen making DTC’s Fly By Night the success it was. They’re as much a part of the show as any actor, and it wouldn’t be the same without them.

That Dallas Theater Center is capable of staging stellar versions of shows as disparate as A Raisin in the Sun, Les Miserables and Rocky Horror Show proves yet again that we are lucky to have this company in our city. Calling Rocky Horror Show a can’t-miss production does not do it justice.