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STAGE REVIEW

Rocky Horror's delightful raunch

Ryan Landry stars with gusto as Dr. Frank N. Furter, a transvestite mad scientist. Ryan Landry stars with gusto as Dr. Frank N. Furter, a transvestite mad scientist.
By Don Aucoin
Globe Staff / October 22, 2011

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CAMBRIDGE - About midway through his performance in “The Rocky Horror Show’’ at Oberon last night, Ryan Landry let out an elaborate sigh and complained: “It’s not easy having a good time.’’

Not at “The Rocky Horror Show,’’ it isn’t. The challenge is to avoid having a good time.

At first glance, it might seem odd that Landry has decided to star as Dr. Frank N. Furter in this uproarious stage musical, which is best known for its film version, the 1975 cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.’’

After all, even a cursory glance at the titles of Landry’s earlier productions, from “Phantom of the Oprah’’ to “Death of a Saleslady’’ to “Mrs. Grinchley’s Christmas Carol,’’ confirms that the merry prankster of Boston theater usually prefers to choose his satirical targets from the ranks of the earnest, the solemn, or the self-important, the better to mash them up and send them up in his inimitably raunchy style.

But if you see “The Rocky Horror Show’’ - and I strongly suggest that you do, because it’s a blast - his decision makes sense. Under the imaginative direction of James P. Byrne, “The Rocky Horror Show’’ proves to be a perfect vehicle for Landry because, as the pansexual transvestite/mad scientist/alien Dr. Frank N. Furter, he gets to act on his animating principle - that nothing succeeds like excess - while also hewing to the high theatrical standards he has always insisted on with his troupe, the Gold Dust Orphans. And yes, there is plenty of raunch. Landry brings lubricious gusto to the song “I Can Make You a Man,’’ in which he brings to life the musclebound creation of the title, played by James Cerne in a silver thong. Later, Landry even finds a way to make gnocchi sound dirty.

Gene Dante and Kayla Foster are terrific as Brad and Janet, the sweet and innocent young couple who blunder into Dr. Frank N. Furter’s castle after their car breaks down and, after spending time in his depraved company, emerge still sort of sweet but no longer so innocent. They and the rest of the talented, energetic cast makes the most of Richard O’Brien’s irresistibly catchy pop-rock tunes, such as “Dammit Janet!’’, “Time Warp,’’ and “Science Fiction/Double Feature.’’

Don Aucoin can be reached at aucoin@globe.com

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW Book, music, and lyrics by Richard O”Brien.

Directed by James P. Byrne.

Costumes, Scott Martino. Lights, Justin Paice. Musical director, Timothy Lawton. Band direction, Gene Dante. Video design, Tim McCarthy.

Presented by Oberon and the Gold Dust Orphans.

At: Oberon, Cambridge. Friday nights through Dec. 2. Tickets 866-811-4111,

www.cluboberon.com.