Rocky Horror Opera Show
[by Sharu Delilkan]
The poster of Opéra Risqué, definitely promised naughtily attired girls singing opera in Moulin Rouge style lingerie. And the diverse crowd waiting outside at 5.30 pm were obviously anticipating a mischievous evening.
The trepidation was heightened by the sight of scantily clad women appearing and disappearing at the box office like fleeting flights of fantasy, although it would have been great to continue the ‘risqué’ experience – the bar staff could be dressed in character too, and the crowds could have been let in early to get ‘well-oiled’ at the bar to prepare for a scandalous evening.
The curtains cloaking the room of cabaret-style seating gave the audience members a suitable sense of excitement when we walked into Galatos’ main theatre.
The cabaret-style tables plus the dimly light room, complemented by pink lighting on stage and blue spotlights, were extremely tantilising. The red tea lights and rosebuds on the equally scarlet tablecloths provided a proper ‘Roxanne-sque’ touch to the decor.
A possible missed opportunity was the empty bandstand stage right, which could have been filled by musicians jamming in full flow to make you feel like you were walking into a nightclub, right off the bat. I’d like to think that these were first night organisational glitches, which were not evident in the performance on stage.
The audience was treated to a trip round the world of broken-hearted beauties from Argentina, France, Spain, lamenting, and sometimes even taking revenge upon lost, or betrayed love.
The set, lights and costumes created an appropriately inappropriate mood with pearls, diamonds, lace and fur; guns, knives, wigs, corsets; thighs, bras, legs, stocking, garters and even fleeting ‘almost’ nudity, completing a ‘Rocky Horror-esque’ visual feast in the intimate room.
One of the few men in the show is Tarver Graham, the show’s compère with a faux French accent, who sets the mood for each scene. He provides a good reprieve from the ‘bawdy’ women on stage however even a contrived storyline or a common thread would have been welcome, to give the musical performances a cohesive flow.
A clever device in the second half features Chris Bryan as the love sick stagehand pining after the unrequited love of Ale Ioan (femme fatale), set against the backdrop of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s Part of Your World, whilst exquisitely duplicating Ioan’s sensual peeling off of her lacey gloves to a tee.
In fact the audience seemed to show great appreciation seeing him adorned with pearls, diamonds and finally the diamond-studded tiara which he wears with poise, style and grace!
The choice of music was confusing at times with Madonna’s Like a Virgin, played towards the end of the show, seemingly chosen merely because of the word “virgin” in the title, almost threatening to dilute the ‘cabaret-esque’ temperament.
In my mind Jessie Cassin epitomizes what the audience hankers for in an ‘Opéra Risqué’. She is in her element emerging intoxicated from the crowd clutching a bottle of Bacardi, initially sculling from a shot glass and eventually swigging straight out of the bottle.
In keeping with the opera-risqué theme her drunken, self-piteous, self-destructive performance of Martha Wainright’s Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole is delivered with excellent vigour and attitude. And her stunning velvet red cocktail dress with diamond bodice showing off her curves, is the cherry on the cake.
In terms of ‘risqué–ness’ the show is generally more ‘coy’ than sleazy, more ‘coquettish’ than erotic. I for one was left lusting for more…
Opéra Risqué plays as part of the Auckland Fringe Festival at Galatos until March 4th.
More information at the Auckland Fringe Website.