Janet McWilliams as Daphne and Garrett Dill as Harold in Fly By Night. Photo by Jeff Carpenter Photography.

Janet McWilliams as Daphne and Garrett Dill as Harold in Fly By Night. Photo by Jeff Carpenter Photography.

With the abundance of theatre in Seattle this season, I was late catching two really special shows that both close this weekend. Smaller companies tend to have a harder time building audiences, even in spaces with smaller seating capacity. But if you like intimate musicals, the Reboot Theatre and Second Story Rep have some dandy fare on stage right now!

The new musical Fly by Night from Reboot, at the Slate Theatre in Sodo, is one about which I won’t disclose too many plot details. It deserves to be seen without any spoilers from reviewers. Believe me, there are many twists in this beguiling, funny, and tear-jerking tale, none of which will be familiar from having seen the movie or book it was based on. Why you may ask? Because it is an original work and a damned good one!

A narrator who then becomes a rep for a vivid and entertaining cross-section of New Yorkers (the amazingly versatile Mandy Rose Nichols) sets the scene for a tale set between 11/09/64 and one year later, on the same date when a major event that affected the greater Northeast of the U.S. But the tale jumps around within those times, which packs the story with surprises, nuances, and details that would be missing from a straightforward telling. It deals with two sisters, actress Daphne (the hilarious and rich voiced Janet McWilliams) and waitress Miriam (the subtly heart-tugging Tara Nix), and an awkwardly attractive Sandwich maker name Harold (the immensely likable Garrett Dill) who unknowingly falls in with them both.

Writers Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock throw in a stock, obnoxious Deli-owner who employs Garrett, but Stacie Hart makes her a likable sort whose crankiness stems from a bad career choice. The sparingly used yet most enriching character, Garrett’s recently widowed father Mr. McClamm is endearingly played by Jeff Church. Church finally gets to sing his character’s frequently begun, but never carried out character song and it is a doozy!

The soft folk-rock score is appealing (though individual song titles are sadly omitted from the program) giving all the actors their due. Director Harry Turpin, a youthful veteran song and dance man himself, here manages a home-run staging a dance-less musical, and setting just the right tone and pacing. Musical Director Joel Kurzynski, also at the keyboard of a 4-piece band makes sure that the engaging score never blasts out the lyrics of the singers, which is nice when you are hearing a musical score for the first time. Brandon Scalf’s set design and Barbra Klingberg’s costumes are modest, minimalist contributions that fit the Re-Boot production just right.

I had as good a time at this show as ANY I have seen this year.Reboot is a company to watch for, and Fly by Night shouldn’t be missed. The show completes its run this Saturday November 19. The Slate Theatre is located in the Inscape Arts Building, 815 Seattle Blvd. S, Seattle; Tickets at $15-$20 are available at reboottheatre.org.

Bo Mellinger and the cast of the Rocky Horror Show. Photo by Michael Brunk.

Bo Mellinger and the cast of the Rocky Horror Show. Photo by Michael Brunk.

Where Fly by Night plays with time, The Rocky Horror Show at Redmond’s Second Story Rep sings and dances “The Time Warp” in this beloved show that SO benefits from playing in a smaller house, rather than the 5th Avenue where it was rather an over-produced hodge-podge some seasons back. Happily all is roguish, raunchy, and right at Second Story Rep, thanks to apt casting and the gothic horror/sci-fi mashup script, score, and lyrics by Richard O’Brien, which made the film a cult classic.

Yes, it’s all there, in a production whose technical aspects (set and lights by the ubiquitous Second Story Rep entity known as The Squolf) are just right for a show that pays homage to low-budget exploitation thrillers of the 50’s and 60’s, set in a proverbial old dark house turned space ship.

As the piece’s pansexual, cross-dressing mad scientist Frank N. Furter, James Padilla, a rising young leading man recently returned to the PNW, gives a preening, suitably sissified, super-sexy performance that honors but side-steps the iconic turn by the roles originator Tim Curry, and makes his own mark. Padilla also has a wide-ranging voice that surely will not go unnoticed by local casting and musical directors.

As the squeaky-clean Brad Majors and Janet Weis, Charlie Chittenden and Jenna Jordan are vocally right, and generally fine in the piece’s most thankless roles, though Chittenden earns more laughs as Brad constantly (rightfully?) questions his masculinity. Alicia-Mendez as the Usherette in the opening “Science Fiction, Double Feature” does a riotous pre-show improve with the audience, and simply owns the song as few others have.

Also notable: Bo Mellinger, literally a scream (and as scantily clad as possible) as Rocky; Doug Graham, hilarious as an increasingly bombed Narrator; Nick-Hyett Schnell who makes the most of his glorified cameo role as Frank’s unfortunate biker ex Eddie which contrasts with his subtly zany work as Brad’s mentor Dr. Scott.

Director Robert Bogue got the casting right, but his direction lacked some distinction. And if Bogue came up with inserting the frequent audience plants and commentary ala what the original film inspired, then I raise my estimation of his work a notch. Rocky Horror Show won’t change your life, but it may make you gals and guys want to buy a corset at Victoria’s Secret next time you are at the mall.

The Rocky Horror Show finishes out its run at Second Story Repertory in Redmond Town Center Saturday November 19, 2016 at 8. Tickets $22-$27 can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 425-881-6777 from 2pm – 6pm and at the box-office 6pm-8pm performance nights. For more information go to secondstoryrep.org.