The Rocky Horror Show at Hart House Theatre

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The Company of The Rocky Horror Show at Hart House Theatre with Becka Jay as Columbia, Rachel Hart as Magenta and Ian Backstrom as Riff Raff, photo credit Scott Gorman.
The Company of The Rocky Horror Show at Hart House Theatre with Becka Jay as Columbia, Rachel Hart as Magenta and Ian Backstrom as Riff Raff, photo credit Scott Gorman.

The month of October is finally upon us, and the Halloween and costume festivities have started strong! Torontonicity was invited to kick off this fun month by attending the sold-out opening night of The Rocky Horror Show at Hart House Theatre! This iconic film has inspired so many stage productions, and we were incredibly excited to see how the Hart House Theatre cast interprets this cult classic.

If you haven’t attended a live show of The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show before, it’s important to note that audience participation has become a major part of the experience. There are specific lines that the audience contributes, but Hart House Theatre has requested that the props not be brought into the theatre and the crowd refrain from throwing items at the cast. For anyone attending the show without any experience with the audience participation portion, just sit back and prepare yourself for some hilarious exchange!


The Company of The Rocky Horror Show at Hart House Theatre with Becka Jay as Columbia, Rachel Hart as Magenta and Ian Backstrom as Riff Raff, photo credit Scott Gorman.
The Company of The Rocky Horror Show at Hart House Theatre with Becka Jay as Columbia, Rachel Hart as Magenta and Ian Backstrom as Riff Raff, photo credit Scott Gorman.

The element of audience interaction highlighted the amazing acting skills of the Hart House Theatre cast, as their flow through the script was uninterrupted and perfectly timed to anticipate the lines that the audience would call out. Heidi Michelle Thomas plays the sassy Narrator and exemplifies this so well! Thomas left the perfect cushion of time in their line delivery, making it seem like the audience participation was rehearsed – it was hilarious!

Another cast member who did a great job anticipating the audiences’ lines was Chris Tsujiuchi, who played the lead of Frank ‘N’ Furter. Tsujiuchi even went as far as calling out specific audience members! The improvisation was impressive, but Tsujiuchi also brought the intensity, comedic timing, and larger-than-life flamboyance that’s expected of the character. Tsujiuchi owned the stage every single time they were on it!

The entire cast did a great job, but I would like to give a shout-out to Ian Backstrom who plays Riff Raff and Rachel Hart who plays Magenta. Backstrom brought that slimy snake-like quality to Riff Raff, which immediately made the character repulsive (as is with the original role). In comparison, Hart exemplified that electric hyper-sexual intensity that Magenta brings to every scene. Both actors did a fantastic job of bringing the perfect creepy element to their characters.

Not only are the characters over the top in The Rocky Horror Show, but the costumes and set reflect that “too much” element as well: Set Designer Brandon Kleiman packed a lot on to the stage including a set of stairs that allowed the stage manager Dustyn Wales and choreographer Stephen Dickson to play with levels during the musical numbers. The sides of the set included panels covered in geometric patterns that gave that extraterrestrial element – it was a packed stage. This cluttered quality allowed the smaller cast to look like more people during the big songs. Very well done!



The costumes were also over-the-top, with all characters wearing black corsets or bustier, with pantyhose, then layered with neon lingerie pieces that popped visually under the black lights. Neon and vibrant wigs with heavy-handed make-up complement and contribute to those pops of colour. Once again, that element of being “too much” was brought from the original film and interpreted well.

The musical numbers for The Rocky Horror Show are taken directly from the original film, and the Hart House Theatre cast invites the audience to sing along and get involved. This relaxed environment makes the entire experience a lot of fun and keeps the energy high throughout the entire night. It doesn’t hurt that the cast have incredible voices and bring the necessary projection and strength in volume to fill the entire theatre with excitement!

The Rocky Horror Show at Hart House Theatre is currently being performed until October 12, 2019 so the limited run time means that you shouldn’t sleep on getting tickets! This musical is a great way to get into the fun Halloween vibes, and the perfect introduction to the iconic Rocky Horror audience experience for those who are unfamiliar. If you’re interested in attending any of the upcoming show dates, see if you’re available to attend the last night as there is a preshow artist chat with the cast! Don’t miss out on the experience, as it’s an entire evening of laugh out loud moments and fun!

You might want to visit Tosto Quickfire Pizza Pasta before the show.

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