Atlanta has always been a promising place for queer, southern theatremakers. Many folks have made substantial marks on the city’s theatre scene, including gay playwrights like Johnny Drago and Topher Payne, the DIY queens at Rowdy Dowdy, and Serenbe Playhouse’s experimental outdoor theatre director Brian Clowdus. What better place than ATL to fine tune your dramatic chops and create something truly kooky and creative? And now after an exhausting year of regressive politics in Trump’s America, a younger generation is carrying on the Time Warp torch in a new rendition of the queer cult classic Rocky Horror Show.
Rocky Horror kicks off the second season for Out Front Theatre, Atlanta's only theatre dedicated to telling stories that speak to the LGBTQ+ experience. Directed by Matthew Busch, whose previous credits include Good People and the fantastic Topher Payne show The Only Light in Reno, this version stays faithful to the original campy, queer material. The production value may be modest, but the dynamic cast takes the material to extraterrestrial heights.
This particular production boasts a slew of incredible young voices (probably most of whom were not alive during the show’s original run), particularly Kiona D. Reese as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Caty Bergmark as Riff-Raff, and Joe Arnotti as Magenta. However, the standout performance for me was Emily Duke as Columbia. Duke moves through every scene with so much charisma and energy that you’ll be moved to have one or two of whatever she is having.
Another highlight of the evening was local drag queen Brigitte Bidet as The Narrator. Bidet is clearly no stranger to emceeing, and her keen sense of comedic timing caused the biggest bursts of laughter from the audience. Each night boasts a different drag queen in the role of The Narrator, including Wild Cherry Sucret and Topher Payne as Suzanne Sugarbaker.
There seemed to be only a few technical issues with the production. At certain points during the show, the sound was so loud that you couldn’t make out what the actors were saying. Also, a cloud of fog seemed to be shot out at the audience at random intervals, but I am naturally a curmudgeon about fog being shot at my face.
Despite these minor kinks, Rocky Horror Show was an incredibly fun and triumphant display of young talent. If Fox’s “Rocky Horror Picture Show” left a bad taste in your mouth last year, this is a great palate cleanser. Not only is it the perfect kickoff to Halloween, but also to Out Front’s second season.
You’ve got eight chances left to see it. See the full schedule and snag your tickets HERE.