The Rocky Horror Show, Chicago Center for the Performing Arts. Richard O’Brien’s 1973 play about a naive young couple introduced to kink by a strange assortment of characters inspired the better-known 1975 film. But without the movie audience’s usual participation, this musical reveals itself for what it is–B theater, with mostly forgettable songs, a barely understandable plot, and an overlong second act. Nevertheless, those hankering for the nostalgia trip will find this a strong production, filled with shimmering voices and Marc Robin’s satisfying dances.

More vamp than camp as directed by Robin and Steve Hiltebrandt, this Rocky Horror is brazenly sexual, with simulated oral sex behind a screen and lots of genital grabbing. Slinky, revealing costumes by Beatnix, Narcisse Designs, and Joseph Stevens add to the titillation. Curt Dale Clark and Roberta Duchak play it straight as Brad and Janet, the corn-fed couple who stumble on a dark and stormy night into the castle of a transvestite (Scott Alan Jones) who’s creating his own perfect man (Michael Witwer). On opening night the melodramatic role of the narrator was played by Eric Muller–aka radio celebrity Mancow. Surprisingly understated, he stuck to the script except for a brief scene at the beginning of the second act where he answered outrageous questions from the audience (possibly plants). Barry Williams–Greg on The Brady Bunch–will take over for Mancow November 13-16. Jerry Springer follows him.

Correction: The actor playing the narrator was Muller’s understudy, Rob Rahn.