From the opening lines of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as the dancers of the Charleston Ballet Theatre slithered out in zombie drag as the feature film flickered behind them, it was obvious this was going to be a Halloween treat.
Brilliant casting made the show. Asheville native Melody Staples was pitch-perfect as Janet Weiss, practically stealing the show scene after scene with the sizzle of a good girl getting in touch with her inner debaucher.
This is, of course, the whole point of Rocky. Underneath the campy sci-fi, fishnets, motorcycles, rock 'n' roll, and cabaret, the story boils down to not being able to keep them on the farm after they've seen Paris.
Or, more directly, how does dear Janet go back to small-town Denton after experiencing Frank, whose lust, as she says, is so sincere? Either way, Staples was a shining star all night long in terms of dance prowess and acting chops.
The story, for the three people in the world who are still Rocky virgins, is that naïve Brad and Janet, while on the way to tell their engagement to a favorite high school teacher (they met in his class), get a flat tire and ask for help at a foreboding castle which just so happens to be the home of a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania, who just so happens to be making a Charles Atlas-inspired man-creature in his science lab. Hedonism and debauchery thus ensue.
Trey Mauldwin, with his golden-boy looks and polished physique, lent the right "just born" naivety to Rocky, wonderfully played against the raw sexuality of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, nicely done by ballet master Stephen Gabriel.
The only downside was that the dancing was so entrancing that it made the moments when the ballet company was off-stage, and the movie alone was playing in the background, dull by comparison.
Though the costume design and psychedelic lighting effects were spot-on, the audio ran a bit hot and cold, too loud in spots, but this seems like the kind of thing that can be easily sorted out in future performances.
Otherwise, this Rocky has all the sheer fluidity of movement for which CBT is renowned and the confidence that allows campy fun to mix seamlessly in with the fine art. —Jason A. Zwiker