A bit of ‘Horror’ for everyone

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A bit of ‘Horror’ for everyone


Frank (Juan Jackson) presides over his laboratory as Riff Raff (Kristian Levercombe), Rocky (Lucas Glover), and other characters look on in ‘The Rocky Horror Show,’ which runs through Oct. 10 at the COEX Artium. Provided by Showdream Company

Wearing a black garter belt, fishnet stockings and a tight red corset, with lipstick to match, a muscular man in 4-inch heels pops his hips as he spins his body flamboyantly around the stage.

This is Frank N. Furter, played by Juan Jackson, one of the outlandish characters in “The Rocky Horror Show,” which is in town until Oct. 10.

The show tells the story of Brad and Janet, a couple of square pegs who get stranded one rainy day when their car gets a flat. They venture up to a strange castle for help and are let in by Riff Raff, a hunchback who introduces them to Frank. He tells them he is a “Sweet Transvestite” from Transsexual, Transylvania.

In Act Two, Janet and Brad experience a sexual awakening that allows them to act out long-repressed erotic fantasies.

It’s a quirky take on a twisted tale - and it’s exciting.

The musical premiered in a small 63-seat theater in London in 1973 and since then has become a cult classic with 60 productions worldwide. It was also the inspiration for the 1975 film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (released in Korea in 1998). It was presented in Korea for the first time in 2001, followed by five more productions through 2008.

Casting of the Australian team of actors was completed with the involvement of Richard O’Brien, who wrote the show’s original book, lyrics and music.

Jackson, the first African Australian cast in the role of Frank, had powerful dance moves and a full voice that captivated the audience whenever he was on stage.

He was perfect for his role, as were the other actors in this production. Kristian Lavercombe, who played Riff Raff, was appropriately spooky with gray hair and smoky makeup. And his twitchy movements were enough to make us squirm in our seats.

The most striking scene is when Frank shows us the living being he has created to satiate his sexual desire - Rocky Horror (Lucas Glover), his ideal man and a replacement for his ex-boyfriend Eddie, who is in the closet.

Frank’s idea is a serious one, but his methods are quite funny. To generate the power he needs to bring Rocky to life, Frank makes Riff Raff pedal a bicycle that’s hooked up to Rocky’s container box as fast as he can.

The combination of Rocky, hidden in a box without knowing who he is going to become, Riff Raff pedaling until he chokes, and Frank anxiously waiting to meet his new sexual partner, made me laugh thinking how far each would go to satisfy their sex drive.

As more and more characters were introduced, I became eager to know what was going to happen next. But just as I was becoming absorbed in all the action, everything stopped.

A 20-minute intermission was announced only 40 minutes after the show had started.

Just as I was getting comfortable with the characters, we were made to take a break. I felt like I was at a fashion show or a body building contest, not at the theater.

The show is performed with a cast of English-language speakers, so the local production company decided to present the show with Korean supertitles on the side of the stage. But the company did not seem to trust the supertitles would be enough, and after each song or scene, a narrator popped up to explain what was going on in Korean. The narrator’s words are then translated into English and thrown back up on the screen.

It was a confusing addition and it interrupted the flow of the entire show.

It was unfortunate that something that was set up to help the audience understand, actually prevented them from doing so.

A musical like this needs to maintain its continuity to keep the audience engaged. This production could have achieved that goal if only they had cut out the constant interruption by the narrator. His appearances strained the patience of an audience I think would otherwise have enjoyed the show.

Another problem was the runtime. Without the intermission the show would have been about 80-minutes long, which was not long enough for a full production plus explanation.

The show ended with the narrator inviting the audience to stand up and do the “Time Warp,” the signature song that was reprised after the curtain call. And it’s a good thing they did that because it relieved a bit of the disappointment I felt at not having been able to spend more time in Rocky’s world.

*The show continues through Oct. 10 at COEX Artium. Performances start at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, at 4 and 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and at 3 and 7:30 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. There are no performances on Mondays. Tickets range from 66,000 won ($56.75) to 110,000 won. Viewers under the age of 18 are not allowed. Go to Samseong Station, line No. 2, exit 5 or 6. For details, call (02) 6925-1479 or visit www.musicalrocky.com.
By Lee Sun-min

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]
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