ROCKY HORROR Makes Way for Lois Lowry’s THE GIVER

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on November 9, 2012

It was a stellar weekend of Verdi, Sondheim and O’Brien.

It’s difficult to mess up Verdi, but this current production of Othello lacked that brilliant and light human touch that Franco Zeffirelli brought to the previous production. Still, I was moved seeing the larger-than-ever audience, much of it due to APSU professor Ming Wang who had received a grant to bring a group of students to the Great Escape Theater to see the “Live from the Met” broadcast. Who knows if they were touched, moved or bored — but Verdi, like oatmeal, will stick to your ribs. I know in some way it will with them as well.

The sweet sentiment of Sondheim’s Into the Woods was not lost on me, nor on the near-capacity audience at the Renaissance Center Sunday afternoon. I’m not fond of the drive on Hwy 48 through Charlotte. It’s the trip I took on my way to Memphis when tending my parents’ final months, so that image always clouds my head and sets me in a mood toward sadness. But the charm of the Renaissance cast and the dearness and heart string-pulling of Sondheim’s music and lyrics made for me a sweet afternoon of theatre.

“Fright on Franklin” was a huge success. So many parents and children — many more than last year — came down to trick or treat in a safe, family-friendly environment. The parents were too busy minding their brood to shop Franklin Street, but the good done and the fun had will spill over onto future returns to shop, dine and frolic on Franklin Street.

We gave two performances of The Rocky Horror Show, an 8pm followed by a midnight showing. The second performance was sold-out, and Grant Thompson, owner of New South Coffee Company, took home first prize in the costume contest as Frank N. Furter, all decked out in fishnet stockings, corset and high-heel pumps. It takes a real man to dress as he had done. Backstage we had our band members Bruce Ervin and Jarrod Jackson looking like second-rate demimondaines in blonde wigs, leather shirts and full makeup perfectly applied by a loving wife — which even in its application, the wearers had no idea how to wear it.

The final two performances of The Rocky Horror Show are tonight and tomorrow at 8pm.

The Giver was unknown to me, but I had seen Lois Lowry’s Newbery Award-winning book on the shelf at Books-A-Million and knew it was a popular piece for middle-schoolers. Ryan Bowie has crafted a magical production, simple and clear, which explores the question, “What would you would be willing to compromise in order to lead a life free of poverty, war and suffering?” Featuring Rob Rodems as Jonas and Jay Doolittle as The Giver, along with Kaitlin Doughty, Michelle Foletta, Leslie Greene and Colin Ryan, The Giver plays five public performances only: next Wednesday and Thursday at 7pm and Friday and Saturday at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee next Saturday, November 17.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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