Puppets get promiscuous

Running on spandex, raunchy attire and fiery puppet-on-puppet action, “The Rocky Horror Puppet Show” showcased the vocal, musical and puppeteer talents of Burlington theater. An adaption of Richard O’Brien’s classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the musical, put on by Saints and Poets Production Company, will run for two weeks and began on Oct. 21, at Lake Street’s Black Box Theater. This performance is the company’s first, but director Kevin Christopher is not new to the musical theater industry. A theater graduate from West Virginia University, much of Christopher’s academic career was spent in the university’s Department of Puppetry and Creative Dramatics. Impressed with the combined efforts of the cast, Christopher commented highly on their commitment, involvement and overall puppet-loving attitudes. “The performance was completely different than I expected … but better,” Christopher said. “[This is] an incredible cast.”  On stage, the characters danced around — plush, yet grim-looking beings of fabric and realistic hair. The costumes, executed by Catherine Alston, were provocative, changing from cardigan, to leather corset, to scandalous undergarment and nude in between. For Rocky, the libido-wild creation of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Christopher relied on the talent of the very human and very muscular Andrew Butterfield.  In a silver spandex Speedo, Butterfield entertained the audience, who laughed at the sexual frustration and conflict of a man in the company of puppets. With the incorporation of both puppets and humans, Christopher’s intentions were of pure entertainment. However, the explicit images of nudity and puppet encounters are not for the faint of heart or an evening out with grandma — unless she is still into the free love of the ‘60s. In an attempt to make the audience more comfortable with the musical’s provocative themes that put sexuality at the forefront for discussion, the “diversity” of the cast was necessary.  “The puppets allow us to be a little naughtier and the audience more comfortable,” Christopher said. Sophomore Ariel Cohen plays the voice of Janet, who, after abandoning a flat tire with fiancé Brad, finds herself in the house of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a participant in puppet pleasure. “It’s interesting because most people have seen [“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”] a hundred times,” Cohen said after a performance. “There is a new element — the puppets — [and] it is much funnier.”  Cohen expressed concern for newcomers to the cult classic who may have used this as their first immersion and found it confusing. With a standing ovation as the performance came to a close, it seemed the audience was satisfied nonetheless. To check out a performance, go to http://www.therockyhorrorpuppetshow.com/show.htm or the Flynn Theatre for information and tickets.