Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Phoenix

The Rocky Horror Show
Scottsdale Community Players
Review by Gil Benbrook | Season Schedule

The Cast
Photo by Laura Durant
First, if I may, let me state the obvious shortcomings of The Rocky Horror Show, the musical send-up of the sci-fi and horror B-films of the 1940s, '50s, '60s and '70s. It is a bizarre and somewhat confusing show with a script full of plot holes, perplexing characters with minimal character arcs, and an ending that, well, just ends. However, it's also got an infectious musical score from creator Richard O'Brien, endearing and humorous characters and, while somewhat risqué, is incredibly enchanting. Also, as any Rocky fan knows, while the original London and New York productions didn't run long, the 1975 film adaptation, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, became a cult phenomenon after initially bombing in movie theatres when it played in midnight screenings with the interjection of the audience who would spout humorous lines and hurl insults throughout the film. The Scottsdale Community Players production of Rocky Horror has a young and energetic cast, effective direction, winning choreography, fun creative elements, and a fantastic sounding band. On the night I attended, the audience was in rare form with their interjections providing plenty of additional humor and fun to the entire production.

The plot starts off fairly simple yet veers into the land of convolution. When their car breaks down, newly engaged couple Brad and Janet (Ian Eller and Celine Sanel) happen upon a nearby castle and hope to use the owner's phone to call for help. However, the caretakers of the house, brother and sister Riff Raff and Magenta (Eric Flayton and Holly Payne), inform the couple that they've arrived on a most special evening. Their master, Frank-N-Furter (Bennett Wood), a mad scientist in fishnet stockings appears, takes the duo to his laboratory, and reveals his latest creation, a muscle man named Rocky (Chase Zeiner) whom, it appears, Frank is planning to settle down with. As Frank pulls the virginal duo of Brad and Janet further into his sexual experimentational exploits, the plot pulls in bizarre characters and elements, including a strange man in a wheelchair (Asher Sheppard), a tap-dancing chorine (Cate Carlino), a motorcycle-riding rocker (Sean Lillis), aliens from the planet Transsexual, laser ray guns, and two stuffy narrators (Sawyer Bland and Carter Palumbo) who constantly interrupt the plot.

While not everyone in the cast has expert singing voices, they all humorously throw themselves into their roles. Wood is fearless and fun as Frank, while Eller and Sanel are perfectly square yet adorable as Brad and Janet. Flayton and Payne are kooky yet charming as the incestuous Riff Raff and Magenta, and Carlino provides some high-flying tap steps as Columbia. Sheppard, Zeiner and Lillis add a few moments of fun to the show, and the narrator duo of Bland and Palumbo interject plenty of drollness into their line delivery. Bland got the brunt of the hurled insults from the audience on the night I attended, yet he spontaneously came up with some perfectly humorous comebacks.

Director Peter Bish has his cast pay homage to the film characters without completely mimicking them, while also creating an entirely giddy atmosphere for them to play in. He also ensures the cast give plenty of room for the audience participatory element to play out. Musical director Curtis Moeller does an excellent job with the large cast and the small but exceptional band. Choreographer Dale Nakagawa adds fun steps to the many upbeat musical numbers. Ben Bozovich's costume designs are stellar and the combination of the simple yet effective set design from Bish, Chase Budden, and Eric Beeck and Bob Nelson's sumptuous lighting delivers some eye catching stage images.

Scottsdale Community Players' production has a lot to admire, and the cast and fun creative elements help to offset a lot of the quibbles I have with the piece. While it probably makes sense to know the show or film before seeing a production of the musical to get the most out of it, I believe you can still enjoy it even if you're a so-called Rocky "virgin." The audience component can also truly make or break a performance, and, while many of the comments the audience makes have been around since the 1970s, on the night I attended, one audience member humorously brought the show right up to the modern age when they shouted "what's your favorite Adele song?" right before Riff Raff opened the door and said "Hello" to Brad and Janet.

Scottsdale Community Players' The Rocky Horror Show, through August 11th, 2018, at Greasepaint Youth Theatre, 7020 E. 2nd Street, in Scottsdale AZ. For information and to purchase tickets call 480-949-7529 or visit

Book, Music and Lyrics by Richard O'Brien
Directed by Peter Bish Musical Director Curtis Moeller Choreographer Dale Nakagawa
Set Designer: Peter Bish and Chase Budden
Scenic Artist: Eric Beeck
Lighting Designer: Bob Nelson
Costume Design: Ben Bozovich
Sound Designer: Peter Bish
Props Designer: Maria Amarocho and Maureen Watson

Frank-N-Furter: Bennett Wood
Brad Majors: Ian Eller
Janet Weiss: Celine Sanel
Riff Raff: Eric Flayton
Magenta: Holly Payne
Columbia: Cate Carlino
Rocky: Chase Zeiner
Dr. Scott: Asher Sheppard
Eddie: Sean Lillis
Narrator 1: Sawyer Bland
Narrator 2: Carter Palumbo
Usherette 1/Phantom/ Dance Captain: Taylor Penn
Usherette 2/Phantom: Allison Steward
Usherette 3/Phantom: Aleesia Hernandez
Phantom: Emma Sucato
Phantom: Tessa Keough
Phantom: Matthew Villarreal
Phantom: J.R. Momeyer

Privacy Policy