‘Rockin’ Horribles’ Offers Tricks and Treats at Rust Belt Theatre

By J.E.Ballantyne Jr.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Halloween may be over but if you are still looking for some Halloween themed fun, then visit the Rust Belt Theatre on Mahoning Avenue. The resident theater at the Calvin Center has brought back last years hit, “Rockin’ Horribles,” by Robert Dennick Joki. Although not a show for the kids, Rockin’ Horribles is great fun for the adults even if you are not a big Halloween fan.

As the show begins, and as the title slightly suggests, there is a similarity to another show of much the same type; although the Narrator says that they have never heard of “The Rocky Horror Show.” Chad and Becky, played by Jude Mikulich and Brooke Nobbs, have crashed their car on a dark road, traveling from New Castle to Youngstown, after nearly missing a very strange looking deer. Out in the middle of nowhere on a pothole-filled road (what else?), they seek refuge in a large creepy house inhabited by somewhat unusual beings.

Both Mikulich and Nobbs turn in strong performances. Their clever duet “Settle For Me,”sets the stage for this couple who have considerable misgivings about their impending marriage.

Mikulich shows a good sense for comedy timing and is paired brilliantly later in the show in scenes with a towering Wesley Miller as Dr. Hauten Daugen. The picture of the two, side-by-side, elicits laughter not to mention the content of the scene. Nobbs has strong acting skills and a good vocal quality that help her build Becky throughout the show showing considerable character development by the end of Act II.

As mentioned, Miller is not only a strong character in the show but he delivers the colorful Doctor in a natural smooth style which easily connects with random audience members on numerous occasions.

The good doctor’s cohorts in the show’s mysterious deeds are Cage Coven as Jib Jab, Danielle Kirally as Fuschia, and Lisa Torrence as Columbiana. Coven plays the creepy little Jib Jab with a delightful intent that oozes from one scene to the other. Kirally and Torrence offer up less interesting characters but deliver good performances. Reliable character actress, Geri Dewitt as Dr. Evita Charmin, is a real treat as a crusty old lady who happens upon the house in the same manner as Chad and Becky did earlier. Mary Boldish James, the buxom narrator, provides appearances that serve as binding for the goings on, although keeping her on stage between her scenes seemed to clutter up the already small space. Heather Powell gives an energetic performance as Roxy who can sing but can’t speak.

Book and lyrics by Joki with music by Joki and Josh Taylor are all well done. Some of the more ingenious musical numbers were the Act I opener, “This May Not Be the Greatest Show,” as they compare what you are about to see to top Broadway titles. Also notable are “DaylightSavings Time,” “Plain Jane,” and “House On the Other Side of the Tracks.” Directed by Joki, the show has good pacing and moves quickly from scene to scene. He handles his large cast well even in scenes where they are all on stage at one time — no small job on the minimal stage.

Slides play a critical part in the show, which aid in the audience participation element. Audience involvement enhances the craziness of both the characters and the situations. Costumes, although uncredited, are well done and add a decided element of visual color and creativity to the show in addition to the zany characters.

If you are looking to extend your Halloween celebration, or if you just want a fun evening, head to the Calvin Center for Rockin’ Horribles.

Rockin’ Horribles
Rust Belt Theatre Co.
Nov. 8, 9, 15, 16 at 8 p.m.
330 507 2358

Pictured at top: Jude Mikulich and Brooke Nobbs are two of the stars of Rust Belt Theater Company’s “The Rockin’ Horribles.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.