Friday, July 29, 2011

KC Fringe "Rocky & Bullwinkle" review by timlovestheatre

Two great tastes that taste great together!
Rating: 3

The Rocky & Bullwinkle Horror Picture Show Parody
KC Fringe Festival

Some things just go great together, peanut butter and jelly, Kansas City and barbeque, the Fringe Festival and the Burlesque show and of course Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  No?  How could the cartoon and the classic audience participation cult film/musical have anything in common besides use of the name Rocky?  All answers are revealed at this year's Kansas City Fringe Festival.

The show is loosely (very loosely) based on the plot of the "Rocky Horror" film with the cartoon characters in the various roles.   But, plot hardly matters as it is just provides a framework for tacking jokes and gags onto.

Rachel Pallente mixes up the Rocky J. Squirrel/Janet Weiss role.  I have never seen Ms. Pallente before but hope we get a chance to see her on a KC stage again soon.
Hopefully, in a part that requires neither funny character voice or squirrel nose.

Doogin Brown tosses together a Bullwinkle Moose/Brad Majors cocktail.  Brown is developing into a valuable comedic actor.  His Bullwinkle was very good, but he seemed to struggle to maintain it all the way thru.  This being the opening show I expect he will find the rhythm.

Noah Whitmore plays a smoothie blend of Snidely Whiplash/Riff-Raff with great energy and cartoonish zeal.  He does the best job of demonstrating a balance in his portrayal of the merged characters.

Aurelie Roque portrays a Natasha/Magenta that is shaken not stirred.  Roque's, uhm, shall we say "physicalization" of the character is a great addition and both funny and fun to watch.

Katie Kalahurka plays the mashed roles of Nell Fenwick/Columbia and a Sherman/Eddie combo.   Kalahurka is the actress you would hire if you wanted an entertaining reading of the "M" section of the phone book.

Dan Hillaker is a tasty frozen blend of Mr. Peabody/Dr. Everett Scott.  Hillaker NAILS the Peabody voice and provides some subtle humorous moments to a show that was painted with a very broad comedy brush.  That's not easy.

Samn Wright pours together Dudley Do-Right/Rocky Horror.  Wright does a great Do-Right and provides some very entertaining facial reactions.  Wright is one local actor you should keep your eye on.

Bill Pelletier is a nutty-cluster mix of William Conrad/The Criminologist as our narrator and host.   A familiar role for Pelletier but he keeps it fresh and funny despite being in the "straight-man" role.

Steven Eubanks is a Chex-mix of Boris Badenov/Dr. Frank-N-Furter.  Eubanks may never be more entertaining than when he is singing and dancing!  He exudes such energy and joy through his performance that you are easily taken along for the ride.   Eubanks also directed/choreographed/music directed the show while no doubt contributing heavily to the script re-writes attributed to the cast and crew.   As director/actor Eubanks avoids the trap of "beefing" up his role or taking more of his share of the spotlight and really shifts the focus to his very able co-stars.  Not easy when playing a role that is basically the focus of the show.

Costumes by Casey McNamara and Regina Weller were smart, funny and looked great.  I wish I could say more, but that would be a spoiler!

Only three negatives:  1.  The otherwise wonderful recorded track often drowned out some of the performers.  This is extra annoying for two reasons.  It doesn't allow us to hear the performance and we miss the lyrics, most of which we are hearing for the first time.  Was this a problem with the track or the body mics?  2.  Okay, I understand the show is a little longer than the average Fringe show.  I understand you want a high-energy pace to keep the show as short as possible.  BUT, you've already stuck in an intermission; take the time to play the jokes out, let the audience laugh, milking a bad joke or two won't completely kill the show.  3. Part of the joy of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" is the interactive element.  Wits and nerds all over the world spend hours carefully devising things to say in response to the film and musical- why none of this parody?  I hope the Egads! crew take another swipe at this someday and that is an element that would certainly add to the p!
 erformance even if it requires some audience plants.

**This show had an 11:00 pm start time so extra "performer-y" points should go out to some of the cast members who had performed in other Fringe shows that day or who had to perform in the burlesque show that followed at 12:30!  Thank goodness for Red Bull.**

Still chances to catch this show!  It plays Thu 7/28@ 9:30 pm and Fri 7/29 @ 11:00 pm (which could be a WILD performance!)   Also, I anticipate this show is a top candidate for the Fringe Hangover extended performance schedule.  Watch or for more information.

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