It's rather strange that, having traveled in theater geek circles almost my entire life, Rocky Horror at Raleigh Little Theatre was my first Rocky Horror experience. I'm glad to say I've now seen it!
Rocky Horror tells the story of newly engaged Brad and Janet as their car breaks down and they go to a castle full of strange characters with names like Riff-Raff and Frank 'N' Furter. The wholesome couple experiences a whole host of things that they never could have imagined in their wildest dreams. The songs are equally out-there, with such numbers as "Sweet Transvestite" and "Hot Patootie." But Rocky Horror is so much more than just a musical. It's an experience.
Rocky Horror is not a "sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride" type of show. It's more of a "dance in the aisles and yell at the characters" type of show. It's certainly unique in its level of audience participation. I was a complete newbie to the entire world of Rocky Horror before seeing it at Raleigh Little Theatre, so take it from me, you don't need to be an expert or have seen it twelve times in order to get the most out of your experience. The Raleigh Little Theatre has taken measures to make sure everyone feels included, from Rocky newbies like myself to seasoned Rocky-goers. They have an audience participation kit, available for purchase, and it includes an audience participation guide. You can follow along as much or as little as you like. Or, if you already know the show, you can just join in with the audience call-outs. If you're like me, you can just soak it all in and appreciate the audience participation of others. A cast member gives the audience helpful guidelines and recommendations at the top of the show.
The cast handled an interactive audience quite well, and seemed to feed off the audience's energy. They kept their own energy up throughout the entire show. The cast was firmly anchored by the show's Brad and Janet, Kaine Riggan and Sarah Winter. The role of the narrator was played by Evelyn McCauley, who had a delightfully Katie Finneran-esque quality to her timing, delivery, and tone. And James Ilsley brought the house down as Frank 'N' Furter, doing things in giant heels that most people couldn't do in running shoes! Additionally, the band, comprised of skilled rock musicians, was a highlight of the show.
All in all, Rocky Horror is edgy, strange, and an all-around fun time. The show has just been extended and now runs through September 9. For tickets and more information, visit www.raleighlittletheatre.org.