Photo Essay Review: Rocky Horror Show

As a first-time viewer, Muir Musical’s “Rocky Horror Show” transported me to a world I never knew I existed and wanted to visit, and I’m glad it did.

Being from Los Angeles, I have the major privilege of having several independent movie theaters at my disposal. My personal favorite is an art house theater in Santa Monica, California: Landmark’s Nuart. This has always been my go-to theater because of its simplicity, intimate feeling, and selection of films. The highlight of Nuart is that every Saturday night there is a showing of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Unfortunately, I’ve simply never had the time to go see “Rocky Horror” at Nuart. However, I had the privilege of having “my cherry popped” by Muir Musical, UC San Diego’s premier musical ensemble — currently headed by co-directors Roselle Castro and Danniel Ureña, and their rendition of the “Rocky Horror Show” held at The Loft on campus. 

Although I knew the show by name, I knew nothing else about it. Someone could have told me that it was about Rocky Balboa in an alternate universe becoming a serial killer after a failed boxing career and I probably would’ve believed that. Thus, I went into the show with a completely blank slate and open mind, not knowing what to expect, and boy, was I in for a ride.

Before I begin talking about the show and performances, I would like to begin with the music. Satanic Mechanic — a clever reference to one of the lyrics from the 1975 iteration — performed as the ensemble band, and truly did make the show. After all, half of what makes a good musical are the instrumentals. Although only situated in a corner of the room with a soft purple light overhead, their talent completely filled the room. The entire time I felt like just jumping out of my seat and dancing with the cast because of how catchy all the music was. While all the band members really had amazing performances that brought out the best of the show, my personal favorite highlight of the group was David Witter on the saxophone. There is just something about adding a saxophone to any band that makes me like them 10 times more. 

Much like film, music truly transports people into the world of the characters, and that much is true about this musical.

And much like our world, the world of the “Rocky Horror Show” has rules one needs to abide by. To deliver those rules was actress Audrey Freund, one of the four Phantoms. Although minor roles in the overall story of the musical, the importance of the Phantoms cannot be understated. All of the phantoms, the other three including actresses Gabrielle Chen, Olivia Rouss, and Alyssa Bousquet, added a flair to the show that, if they were not there, would create a void. They were the fierce and expressive guides to the show who made several appearances throughout the performance.

However, unlike our world, the world of the “Rocky Horror Show” is definitely much stranger, and this much was apparent through the costume design. All of the costumes in the performance, created by costume designer Lauren Agans-Dominguez, really emphasized the, and I mean this positively, outlandish nature of the musical. My personal favorite was the usherette’s costume, played by Nikki Yar who doubled as Magenta in the show. This was the first costume I saw, and upon seeing this costume, with its holographic silver dress and gloves, complemented by the white wig, I felt like I was no longer at The Loft, but in the world the showrunners wanted me to be in, and the rest of the costumes followed suit.

Although the music and the costumes did play a major role in transforming The Loft into the world of the show, much of this credit I give to the star of the show Stephen Loftesnes as Frank N’ Furter. To say he was a joy to watch sing, dance, and prance around would be selling him short. Despite this being my first exposure to the “Rocky Horror Show,” I don’t think there could have been someone better to cast for the role. His appearance, charisma, control over his facial expressions, and ability to both dance and sing really set a high standard for any future Frank N’ Furters — try saying “future Frank N’ Furters” five times really fast — that I may see. His stage presence truly commanded the stage, while also elevating the performances of those around him.

While Stephen Loftesnes may have been the star of the show, that’s not to discredit the performances of all the other actors in the show. Every actor and actress gave great dancing and singing performances, and added to the otherworldly feel of the musical. Seeing Michael Lakind as Brad Majors, Nio Russell as Janet Weiss, Connor Rankin as Rocky, Geneva Barker as Riff-Raff, and Jessica Ragsac as Columbia all felt well-casted and each brought their own energy and personality to the overall show.

But alas, as all good things, the show must come to an end, and I think my feelings toward that inevitable truth are best portrayed by this image. As portrayed in the background, I try to hug onto the world that the showrunners have created around me. I truly do not want the fun to end. Yet, as demonstrated by narrator Ben McLaren, I stare off into the distance, hand extended, hoping to one day feel as ecstatic as I did that night. 

I bid you adieu, till the next “Rocky Horror Show.”

Photos by Helix Creative Solutions

Revision: This article was updated at 7:45 p.m. on Dec. 30  to reflect edits from our editorial board.

One thought on “Photo Essay Review: Rocky Horror Show

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