All Hail “The Rocky Horror Show” As Stray Dog Opens Their New Season

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Michael Juncal as Frank ‘N’ Furter is delighted to see the scantily clad Kevin O’Brien and Heather Matthews in the Stray Dog production of “The Rocky Horror Show.” Photo: John Lamb

Nothing says Fall and Halloween better than a production of “The Rocky Horror Show” and Stray Dog brings it back with all of the zaniness, crowd reactions and scantily clad lads and lassies. If you’re familiar with the stage show or the movie (and who isn’t?), you’ll have a great time. If this is your “first time,” the audience alone will draw you in because you may miss most of the song lyrics due to some poor diction and the on stage band.

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Michael Juncal lets it all hang out as Frank ‘N’ Furter in “The Rocky Horror Show” at Stray Dog. Photo: John Lamb

But don’t let that little problem hold you back- this show is wild and chaotic and, at Stray Dog, it’s all over the place. Willing or unwilling audience participation is the order of the night as the actors often get up close and personal and, of course, the audience often talks back especially to yell “Asshole” every time Brad is mentioned and “Slut” every time Janet’s name crosses someone’s lips. That’s why “Rocky Horror” is more of an event than a play or musical. Program no-no’s may prevent what you often get away with watching the movie (which an awful lot of people did at midnight showings for over two decades) like shooting water pistols, lighting up lighters or other things that could impinge on an already hectic show. But all the fun and nonsensical plot twists are there along with big numbers like “The Time Warp,” “Hot Patootie” and “Science Fiction.”

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Michael Juncal leads the way in the orgy that is “The Rocky Horror Show” at Stray Dog Theatre. Photo: John Lamb

Michael Juncal leads the way as Frank ‘N’ Furter- the “Sweet Transvestite From Transexual Transylvania” as his large frame bounces around the stage in lab coat or corset. He leads an alien race, don’t you know, who have come to keep Earthlings from destroying their own planet. Meanwhile, Brad (Asshole) and Janet (Slut) have car trouble and stumble on his castle and all of the crazy inhabitants.

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Luke Steingruby makes his appearance as Rocky in the Stray Dog production of “The Rocky Horror Show.” Photo: John Lamb

Kevin O’Brien plays the nerdy Brad (Asshole) and Heather Matthews makes a lovely Janet (Slut). They soon loose their inhibitions as the crew of Phantoms release their libidos. Luke Steingruby makes a svelte and tanned Rocky- the creation of and lusted after by Juncal’s Frank ‘N’ Furter- though he finds Janet (Slut) a bit more to his liking. Corey Fraine, after his limber portrayal of Bat Boy last season, returns to play the equally flexible and over zealous Riff Raff. Michael A Wells plays the rocker Eddie and returns later as the inimitable Dr. Everett Scott.

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The Phantoms and Frank entice Brad (Asshole) and Janet (Slut) during “The Rocky Horror Show” at Stray Dog. Photo: John Lamb

Maria Bartolotta does a great job as Magenta and the Usherette who opens and closes the show and Sara Rae Womack is a delightful Columbia. Always crisp, clear and concise is the wonderful Gerry Love as the Narrator. The ensemble of Phantoms is terrific as they mingle before the show and, as I said, have a lot of interaction with the audience during the performance.

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Michael A. Wells as Dr. Everett Scott explains a few things to the Phantoms during the Stray Dog production of “The Rocky Horror Show.” Photo: John Lamb

Justin Been has directed with a real flair for what makes this show tick. He pulls out all the stops and then goes a bit further. It’s a wild, controlled evening that never lets up. Chris Petersen leads the Stray Dog band and, besides occasionally drowning out the often clever lyrics, they do a great job of keeping the place rocking. Rob Lippert does his usual masterful job of creating the proper set including the screen that drops down to show before performance, during intermission and at curtain call scenes from some of the tackiest horror shows ever written. Tyler Duenow creates the mood with his lighting design and Eileen Engel’s costumes hit the right mark. Rounding out the creative team is choreographer Zachary Stefaniak Shaffner who plows through this iconic show with excellent movement and just the right touch of bawdiness.

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The Phantoms seem to enjoy their visitor, Janet (Slut) during “The Rocky Horror Show” at Stray Dog Theatre. Photo:John Lamb

You know you want to see it. “The Rocky Horror Show” at Stray Dog Theatre is just crazy, nasty fun. It plays through Halloween Eve Eve- October 29th. So give them a call at 314-865-1995 to get in on the action.

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One Response to “All Hail “The Rocky Horror Show” As Stray Dog Opens Their New Season”

  1. Beth Hoops Says:

    Hi Steve – eager to send you some information about a new immersive theatre production coming to STL next month, but I can’t track down your email. Would love to connect and discuss further when you have a moment – beth.hoops (at) gmail.com

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