Putting aside for a moment the merits of David Lucey’s sinful production of The Rocky Horror Show—of which there are many—I’d first like to point out that no other theater company in Boston (let alone a small theater company) is doing what Moonbox Productions is doing.
Founded by Sharman Altshuler in 2011, Moonbox has developed a reputation for staging first-rate productions of difficult, provocative musicals that most other companies of its size wouldn’t dare tackle. Who else is fearless enough to tackle LaChiusa’s The Wild Party, the never-produced Barnum, the underappreciated Caroline, or Change, and Stew’s autobiographical Passing Strange? It has been with a steadily increasing regularity that Moonbox’s productions feel more like touchstone events rather than routine revivals, and that’s never been as true as it is now with The Rocky Horror Show, a pop-up production staged in a Harvard Square storefront, appropriately enough the site of a former candy store.
The candy may be gone from 25 Brattle St, but there’s no shortage of sticky and sweet delights in Lucey’s incessantly pleasurable production. The issue with Rocky Horror—regardless of the production—is that the 1975 film will always tower over any live production. No matter how good the production is, it just won’t ever match up, which is one of the dangers of presenting anything that has a cult following.
But there is plenty to admire here, from the talented, diverse, glittering ensemble to the smart, atmospheric design that completely transforms the odd-shaped space. Dan Sullivan’s choreography, too, does a good job of filling the space without overwhelming it.
The standout performances belong to Alexander Boyle as Brad and Brad Foster Reinking as Riff Raff; both give deeply committed, vocally flawless performances that shine just a tad brighter than the rest. Reinking, in particular, brings a particular brand of intensity to the stage that makes me wonder why he’s not yet a ubiquitous presence on Boston stages.
Except, of course, for our beloved Frank N. Furter, played here by the exceptional Peter Mill. Mill honors Tim Curry’s “sweet transvestite” in all the ways we want him to while making the part a creation all his own. If the eyes are the window to the soul, then Mill’s eyes open us up to a world of divine and ferocious sexuality.
Only two small quibbles: The sound design could stand to be neater, and Jared Scott Miller is completely miscast as Frank’s boy toy creation, Rocky, which does degrade the lacquer of some of the show’s scenes.
But The Rocky Horror Show is largely another win for Moonbox. Just in time for Halloween, now is the time to give yourself over to absolute pleasure.
THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. THROUGH 11.2 AT MOONBOX PRODUCTIONS, 25 BRATTLE ST., CAMBRIDGE. MOONBOXPRODUCTIONS.ORG
Theater critic for TheaterMania & WBUR’s TheArtery | Theater Editor for DigBoston | film and music critic for EDGE Media | Boston Theater Critics Association.