Two supernatural sex comedies are running concurrently at 6th Street Playhouse, perfectly timed for Halloween. Both feature witty retorts and sexual innuendo (and out-uendo), alongside ghostly visitations and eye-popping outfits—but only one features the “The Time Warp.”
Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show—back for a third consecutive year at 6th Street—transcends its own quirky script deficiencies by turning the whole show into one joyously raucous, sex-positive event, complete with cross-dressing costume contests at the intermission and a rowdy post-show dance break in which the audience is invited to “Time Warp” with the cast. Directed with naughty-and-nice vivacity by Craig Miller and fueled by the spot-on perfection of musical director Justin Pyne and a magnificent rock band, this is a Rocky Horror that brings enough high-spirited fun to outweigh the loony flaws of the story.
As Dr. Frank N. Furter—the sweet intergalactic transvestite himself—Rob Broadhurst unleashes a torrent of high-heeled, pelvis-thrusting glee, and Zach Howard rocks hard as the duplicitous butler Riff Raff. Mark Bradbury and Abbey Lee, as the virginal visitors Brad and Janet, do fearless, first-rate work in the show’s trickiest roles.
This Rocky Horror is a dark-humored dance party all dressed up as a play.
Rating (out of 5): ★★★★
In its time, Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit was the Rocky Horror of drawing-room comedies. It’s the story of a milquetoast writer haunted by the ghost of his manipulative first wife while struggling with the passive-aggressive machinations of his second. Directed by Meghan C. Hakes, the 6th Street version delivers visually but misses the mark in its tone and rhythm. Hurt by a tentative pace and some wildly uneven (often unintelligible) accents, the show takes what might have been a tasty martini and turns it into a diluted cocktail of clashing, though still slightly fizzy, soft drinks.
Despite delightfully engaging performances by David Yen as optimistic author Charles, Gina Alvarado as the ghostly femme fatale Elvira and Lennie Dean as the well-meaning medium Madam Arcati, the production woefully miscalculates the underlying point of the play—which can’t be described without spoiling key second-act surprises—resulting in an ending that, though visually magical, is suddenly and unexpectedly not fun.
‘Blithe Spirit’ and ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ run Thursday–Sundat through Nov. 8 at the 6th Street Playhouse.
52 W. Sixth St., Santa Rosa. Thursday–Saturday at 8pm; ‘Blithe Spirit’ has 2pm matinees, Saturday–Sunday. 707.523.4185.