Haute Patooties, bless my soul, I really love that rock and roll. It was a shockingly good time to go and hang out with the Haute Patooties as they put on Rocky Horror at the Fallout Shelter (Cohesion Space) in Canton last night. Because, as an infamous social media personality said, why put off til later what should be seen in October?
Haute Patooties is a mash up of several creative forces in the local arts scene to bring you a rollicking good time. Their interpretation of Rocky with live band playing overhead, fantastic lights and draped velvet curtains no less is a sight for the eyes and mind. And ears if you like all the call-backs and stuff. Their custom cocktails, phantoms, and all the trimmings were just the icing on an already delicious slice of cake.
I guess I’ll try to take on this science fiction double feature journey with a quick re-cap; but seriously if you don’t know what this play is about we need to talk. Two naïve young kids are out for a drive and they get a flat tire. They walk back to the nearby castle and ask to use a phone. But the castle is an odd and enchanting place where a party is going on, everyone is doing the time warp, and the Dr., or um, Master has made a creation he is bringing to life tonight! Brad and Janet get sucked into this devious underworld of every possible sexual fantasy and can never go back to their dull lives again.
Let’s talk for a moment about this set and lighting, shall we? I don’t know where they scored that divine ring of lighting- but the structure itself fit perfectly with the already in place scaffolding. There were a ton of lights, and two, count them two, guys working the boards to make it all go off without a hitch. The greens, red, pinks, blues, the bogos, the moving parts, damn I felt like it was a rock show. And there were projections to boot, not just of the closed circuit surveillance footage and seduction scenes, but for the opening number as well.
Next, you have to talk about the band. I have no idea what kind of voodoo allowed them to get a full band up there on the landing, high overhead, but they did it. The only note for the weekend I have is to pump up the vocals a little more, some of the song lyrics were lost to the screaming music of the band. They took it upon themselves to offer callbacks when the audience was too mesmerized by the spectacle before them to, well, call back. I know for a fact that several of the people involved in this performance are die hard Rocky fans and have done this show before. When THEY tell you this is the most fun they’ve ever had – that is a testament! The umbrella company that Haute Patooties is under is Guerilla Theatre Front and this is a guerilla operation. It is a joint effort of collaboration from all parties involved. Not just a director per say, but EVERYONE who assisted with the production.
And now, the highlight of the evening, the actors! Surprise! Lance Bankerd is a freaking amazing Dr. Frankenfurter. His wig game is strong, his mascara game stronger and (I never know) he could actually dance! In heels! His stage presence and aura is awe-aspiring- he owns every scene he is in- often outshining his cast mates. There were so many amazing performances in this show, but this one, this one is the one to watch. Brad is portrayed by Justin Johnson, who is a very lanky and knobbly-kneed version, if anything he is maybe a bit too confident for the role. He should maybe look a little more uncomfortable in his costume pieces. Donna Ibahle plays a rather adorable little Janet who swings her ponytail like a pro. Her scowls and facial expressions actually make her look like she should be a caller at times instead of the lead actor!
Rocky, Atticus Emerson, is utterly adorable in his yellow wrestling singlet with glittery beard. And the narrator, Roni Mosco, ad libs cheekily to match the wit of the audience taunts. Lee Conderacci is a gorgeous magenta oozing with style and charisma. Matt Payne is a hunching Riff Raff with the power to fold himself in half. Jennifer Alexander is a perfectly procured Columbia with outfits that made me swoon with envy. Christian Gonzalez is a fun twist on Trixie with his bell hop costume and collar and leash. Siobahn Beckett is a crashing and glittery Eddie, until, you know, chainsaw. Heiko Spieker keeps his cool (and can walk!) as Dr. Scott, even if when he stands we could see the backside of his pants cut out! And the phantoms, Amy Bell, Maggie Flanigan, Chelsea Paradisio, Charles Woods, Chris Uehlinger, Rory Kinneson, Nikolai Swarczek, & Stephen Edwards all looked like they were having the best time up there! I wanted to join them! They also serve up some mean custom cocktails, so get a “Time Warp” before the show to lighten your spirits.
What Haute Patooties has put together is nothing short of tantalizingly terrific. This rag-tag team has seemed to mount the impossible, a Rocky that feels fresh but classic. And everyone seemed to be genuinely having a good time, even Brad and Janet, much to their chagrin.
Social commentary: I attend the final dress rehearsal and was so stoked to see that Haute Patooties donated all their money from this night to GLCCB, the LGBT Community Center of Baltimore. As they phrased it, “putting their money where their mouth is” and supporting a “mission of uniting and empowering sexual and gender minorities and their advocacy for a better quality of life for the entire community.” And let me tell you, nothing is sexier than social justice warriors fighting for my hometown!
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? You need to go! And go quickly! This show only runs this weekend and a special Halloween performance! Take friends, buy some prop bags, call out like idiots and have a bloody good time.
Running time just under two and a half hours with one intermission. Through October 31st at the Cohesion Fallout Shelter.