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He'll Get You a Satanic Mechanic: Tad M. Morgan (center) shines as Frank N. Furter in 'The Rocky Horror Show.'

Slut: The Musical

Santa Cruz 'Rocky Horror' emphasizes all the things that make it fun to be a freak for Dr. Frank

By Cindy Campo

As most everyone knows, it's the lines between the lines that make Rocky Horror fun to go see. Perhaps the greatest thing about the current Santa Cruz staging of this infamous rock-horror musical is that you get to fill in all your favorite blanks--you can yell, do the time warp and throw things while hanging with some of the most enthusiastic transsexual aliens to be found anywhere.

Originally an English theater production, Rocky Horror found its way to film and to America in 1975 with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which featured many of the actors from the original theater production and became the most popular midnight movie in history.

Here in Santa Cruz, the stage production of this sexy romp uses some surprising elements from the film, while reclaiming the theatrical character of the show. Meanwhile, you get to watch the production's luscious creatures cavorting on--and sometimes off--the stage.

Like any good musical, this one kicks off with a song--and in this case, some gorgeous usherettes and fabulous vocals by Briana N. Michaud. The lines "Science fiction, double feature, Dr. X will build a creature" set the scene for what is brewing at the castle, where the hapless, sexually naive Brad and Janet have broken down in the rain. And of course, it all gets wackier from there.

A lot of the shoutouts and wordplay in Rocky Horror are simple double-entendres at best (there are plenty of single entendres), but that doesn't mean the production has no depth. The castle where Dr. Frank N. Furter (from the planet Transsexual) carries out experiments with human life is a place of sexual openness, but also corruption. Frank N. Furter (played to the hilt by our very own Ciao Bella's Tad M. Morgan) can be a whiny, temperamental bitch and self-serving besides. But one of the messages that we get from inside the castle is, "Don't dream it, be it." Can't really argue with that.

Although Frank N. Furter has become the Rocky Horror icon, one could say that Janet Weiss (Esme Ellen Ganz, in an amazing performance) is the main character. She is the one who changes the most in the story. Her fiance Brad (brilliantly portrayed by Marcus Jon Boardman) goes through some of the same challenges, but Janet gets to have all the fun while she's learning about herself. She discovers her own sexuality in a far more encompassing way than Brad. Yeah, you could say, she's a slut. But she's more. She gains the power to draw Dr. Frank N. Furter's creation away from him without forming an unhealthy obsession herself.

In the end it is not clear what Brad and Janet have really learned. But it makes for a damned good time, and since Santa Cruz is so small, to go see Rocky Horror onstage in town is really just a jump to the left, and a step to the right.

The Rocky Horror Show will be performed Friday (Nov. 7) and Saturday (Nov. 8) at 7:30pm and 11pm at the Vets Hall, 846 Front St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $15 in advance/$20 at door; 831.454.0478.

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From the November 5-12, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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