Nick Padgett in “The Rocky Horror Show” (Padgett Productions)
For those who like their spooky-season arts to skew madcap, few productions can compare to The Rocky Horror Show. For the uninitiated (Rocky Horror would dub you “virgins”), this is not a show designed for patrons who prefer their plays to maintain any degree of reverence for the theatrical institution. This is an interactive event, where audience members are encouraged—bordering on required—to yell out responses to the actors’ dialogue, the lewder and more immature the better.
Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. In that time, the classic B-movie-inspired story of the naive young couple stumbling upon the castle of the mysterious and glamorous Dr. Frank-N-Furter has evolved far beyond itself. As with the live screenings of the iconic film version, a night out at this show is almost more about the communal and entirely meta experience than about the actual play being performed. There are prop bags available for sale, to be used at designated times to highlight specific moments. The call-and-response from the audience is part of an established script five decades in the making. Don’t worry, though, if you don’t know the lines—the majority of attendees will not but the audience is stacked with staff and friends of the company, loudly and eagerly taking the lead.
While The Rocky Horror Show is largely about the experience itself, that does not mean the quality of the actual production is unimportant. A talented cast and band, dynamic direction, compelling design elements—all of these are essential to rounding out the full experience and fortunately, Padgett delivers on every level.
Performed in the Black Box Theater’s outdoor space, most of the action is delivered in a presentational, almost vaudevillean style, with actors facing directly out to the audience, the (excellent) band living on stage behind them throughout. The straightforward concert setup serves to accentuate the actors’ exceptional comedic skills and Mickey Pasamonte and director/producer (as well as star, playing Frank-N-Furter) Nick Padgett’s delightfully exhilarating choreography.
Come prepared with a lawn chair and a blanket or two and this rowdy, open-air Rocky Horror Show—which Padgett Productions is turning into a full-on seasonal institution in Kansas City—is a fantastic autumn evening outing.
“The Rocky Horror Show,” a production of Padgett Productions, runs through October 31 at the Black Box, 1060 Union Avenue. For more information, visit www.padgettproductionskc.com.