‘Rocky Horror’ at The Shea

Strange — isn’t it — the lure, the enduring attraction of horror?

Why, there’s even a special holiday dedicated to the “dark side,” the hallowed Halloween – or, in its original incarnation, All-Hallows’ Eve, which was, in traditional Christian venues, the night before All Hallows’ Day.

But, much like Christmas, it is only a cover for passions far more primal, its root-systems reaching back into pagan times, and thought to be rituals in observance of the dead, such as the Roman festival Parentalia, and the Celtic festival Samhain, Old Irish for “summer’s end.”

When the hysteria, hoopla and Hollywood are swept off the table and we look it straight in the eye, horror is nothing more or less than humanity’s confrontation with the inevitable, its own unthinkable mortality.

But fortunately, there’s the light side of the dark side — which is where Halloween comes in. I mean, if you can’t beat existential angst and the looming question mark of death, you might as well have fun sending them up every year or so. Too much horror, of course, makes Jill a terrified lass, but just enough to titillate and delight inoculates us against its deeper ravages.

This is also where Richard O’Brien’s maniacal musical, “The Rocky Horror Show” comes in. The Country Players will be treating the region to five performances of the now iconic ritual just in time to catch the spirits on their annual outing before, during and just after All Hallows’ Eve, with performances Friday, Oct. 26, at midnight; Saturday,
Oct. 27, at 8 p.m.; Wednesday, Oct. 31, (Halloween) at midnight, and Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 3 at midnight. The performances take place at The Shea Theater, 71 Avenue A, in Turners Falls.

The show includes Kevin Tracy, Lindel Hart, Christine Voytko and Eddie Zitka and is directed by Donald Lawrence Peck, with musical direction by Amy Roberts-Crawford.

“Rocky Horror” emerges as something of a cross section between “The House of Frankenstein” and “Grease,” a patchwork quilt of cliches from B-, C- and D-movie plots throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, with an unsavory mix of characters only a myopic (and psychopathic) mother could love — a satanic, shape-shifting scientist, nymphomaniacal femme fatale, freeze-frozen road-rage biker, synthetic (but hypersensitive!) creature — Rocky himself — two nerdy normals — and, oh, so many more.

While I’m not sure I would be quick to invite youngsters whose innocence is still intact, the musical’s bizarre laundry list of anomalies may, alarmingly, be relatively familiar territory for the present, dangerously precocious, generation of mid-teenage earthlings.

The saving grace of ‘Rocky Horror’s brood of miscreants and deviants is that, as their sordid narratives unravel, we come to see that, just like that robotic Tin Man of Oz, they all reveal unmistakable signs, to a greater or lesser degree, of possessing real feelings remarkably not unlike unto our own.

And so, in the end, as icky, yucky, obstreperous and obnoxious as they may well be, we come to forgive — even embrace — them as increasingly recognizable versions of our family, friends and even — gasp! — ourselves.

Tickets are $15 for Upper House Seating, $20 for Lower House, and $25 for Lower House, which includes props.

Tickets can be purchased online (50-cent processing fee) at www.countryplayers.org.

Tickets can be reserved in advance and picked up the night of the show by calling The Shea Theater box office. 413-863-2281, ext. 3.

An author and composer, columnist Joseph Marcello of Northfield focuses on music and theater. He can be reached at

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