Sexy, Rollicking 'Rocky' Does the Time Warp Yet Again

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Stranger-than-usual goings-on are being reported along the Sunset Strip.

A young, out-of-town couple got lost there during a recent rainstorm, and after their car blew a tire, they knocked on a castle door, seeking a telephone. To their horror, they found the place occupied by a cross-dressing mad scientist, his demented servants and the muscle-boy monster he had just created. Before long, the frightened couple were being urged into all manner of sex acts, then forced into lingerie and high heels to perform a floor show.

The inquiry into their case focuses on the castle, otherwise known as the Tiffany Theater, and the suspicious cast of characters in a rock musical called "The Rocky Horror Show." A hodgepodge of sci-fi and horror movie plots, the show charts a couple's transformation from squeaky-clean boy and girl next door into pleasure-addicted pod people.

Perhaps you've deduced by now that the young sweethearts on Sunset are none other than Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, and their host, the infamously outre Dr. Frank-N-Furter. You probably know them all from the 1975 movie "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," starring Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. But before the movie, Richard O'Brien's musical was a stage hit.

Now, "Rocky Horror" is back in its original, live form, and as directed by Dennis Erdman, it's a mind-warping combination of hot music and sex appeal. These singers all have great pipes, and they've got the right spirit, giving themselves over to debauchery with absolute abandon.

David Arquette, of the "Scream" movies, headlines as the cross-dressing scientist. It's the role that Curry played so memorably, and it presents Arquette with some pretty high heels to fill. He doesn't quite manage to do so, unfortunately; gamely trying for vamp, he ends up instead with tired (and awkward) camp.

The rest of the cast, though, is flawless. As Brad and Janet, Timothy A. Fitz-Gerald and Lacey Kohl are as all-American-looking a couple as you could ask for. Donnie Kehr, Kirsten Benton and Hynden Walch are wonderfully over the top as the ghoulish house staff, and James Carpinello, who recently had New York panting over his appearance in the play "Stupid Kids," will soon have Los Angeles doing the same over his comically vacant and oh, so beautifully sculpted gym god of a monster. Best of all, the snooty-voiced Paxton Whitehead plays the narrator to deadpan perfection.

The costumes, by hip clothier Todd Oldham, include an eye-popping array of lingerie. The set--by Yael Pardess and Cara T. Hoepner--is a hybrid haunted castle and spaceship, and through a sound-booth window at the upper audience-right-hand side of the stage, conductor/keyboardist Laurence O'Keefe can be seen leading the red-hot band.

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* "The Rocky Horror Show," Tiffany Theater, 8532 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, 8 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 8 and 11 p.m. Ends March 14. $25-$55. (310) 289-2999. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

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