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School of Acting's 'The Rocky Horror Show' Is a Rollicking Ride

On Thursday, May 5, a packed house at 620 Sutter Street Theatre enjoyed a rollicking, often hilarious ride during the School of Acting’s opening night production of The Rocky Horror Show. Throughout the two-act musical, the room crackled with electricity. Under the guidance of director Clark Houston Lewis, the talented cast drew enthusiastic applause after each song and brought the audience to its feet for a thunderous standing ovation at the end of the play.

Based on the Broadway hit and cult-classic movie, The Rocky Horror Show pokes fun at B-movie horror and sci-fi films that were popular from the '30s through the '70s. The play also tackles gender and sexual issues that are still timely today. The Rocky Horror Show follows the adventures of Brad and Janet, a naïve young couple who stumble upon the spooky castle of maniacal transvestite Dr. Frank Frank-N-Furter and his ghoulish cronies after their car breaks down.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark musical’s Broadway debut. In honor of the occasion, the School of Acting will welcome actor Barry Bostwick—who starred as Brad in The Rocky Horror Picture Show film—to a special Q&A session after the May 12 performance of the play.

With her angelic singing voice and radiant smile, India Jarvis lit-up the stage as Janet. She was equally convincing as the fresh-faced ingenue she starts out as and the sexy vixen she becomes after being seduced by Frank. Wiggy Torres was also perfectly cast as her geeky boyfriend Brad who undergoes a similar transformation. Ryan Vasquez was a scene-stealer in the role of Riff-Raff, Frank’s creepy butler. He had the audience in stitches every time he simpered and slithered across the stage.

“The play is really outlandish and bizarre, so it was exciting to get to work with material that’s not necessarily linear and realistic,” said Vasquez, who was pleased by the audience’s response to the play. “It was fun to let go and make bold, crazy choices and accept the world of the play and not have to justify things. At the same time, it was challenging to get out of my head and stop trying to be ‘Ryan the actor.’”

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Though he didn’t appear until almost halfway through the first act, Samuel Prince was utterly riveting and hysterical as Frank. From the moment he strutted on stage in his bustier and fishnets, singing and gyrating to “Sweet Transvestite,” he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Whether he was showing off Rocky (Devante Winfrey), the ultra-buff model of male perfection he’d created and was trying to bring to life, seducing Brad and Janet, barking orders at his fellow freaks, or performing an emotional rendition of “I’m Going Home,” Prince owned the stage.

Other standouts among the many excellent performances included Tia Silver as Riff-Raff’s twin sister and Zack Hacker as Dr. Scott, Brad’s former professor who shows up at the castle to thwart Frank’s plans.

It was hard to resist singing along when the actors busted into catchy numbers like “Time Warp,” “Sweet Transvestite,” and “Damn It, Janet” while dancing to routines expertly choreographed by Alexandra Cummins. The live band directed by Ben Prince also helped amp up the play’s energy. And the costume designers provided just the right mix of leather and sparkly corsets, platform boots, feather boas and other kinky attire.

“We've had a blast working on the show, so I'm thrilled that people are enjoying it so much,” said Lewis. “I’ve received multiple emails after each performance from audience members saying how overwhelmed they were with the level of talent in the cast. We've always known how much talent we have in the [School of Acting], and how hard our students work, so it’s enormously gratifying to be able to showcase their skills and watch them get such enthusiastic responses from the larger community.”

The Rocky Horror Show, featuring special guest Barry Bostwick, will play at 8 p.m., on Thursday, May 12 at 620 Sutter Street Theatre. There will also be two additional performances on Saturday, May 14, at 7 and 10 p.m. Tickets are available at the door. They’re free for Academy students, faculty and staff and cost $15 for the general public.