MusicalNorth WestReview

Rocky Horror Show – Manchester Opera House

Writer: Richard O’ Brien

Director: Christopher Luscombe

Reviewer: Matt Forrest

The Time Warphas been a firm favourite at social clubs, school discos, and family gatherings for an age. Regardless if it’s the original and to a lesser extent the 1987 cover version by Damian: it is always guaranteed to pack out any dance floor and get people out of their seats and on their feet. This was never more prevalent than at the Opera House this evening where as soon as the opening bars began everyone was up dancing: sure, this happens during most encores but seldom halfway through the first act! This classic showpiece number is ingrained in popular culture and offers just a taste of what the Rocky HorrorShow is all about.

It’s hard to believe that it is now 46 years since the madcap musical received its premiere, and this latest production shows there is still plenty of life left in this musical theatre beast! It’s bold, bright and bulging at the seams with energy: Richard O’ Brien’s love letter to the science fiction films of the 1950s is as outrageous and fun as it ever was.

The plot follows that all too familiar B-movie tropes: Brad and Janet, a freshly engaged couple are caught out with a flat tyre. It is here that they stumble on the creepy castle of Dr Frank N Furter and his servants, Riff Raff, Magenta, and Columbia. However, things at the Frank N Furter residence aren’t quite what they seem and soon events transpire that will test Brad and Janet’s relationship.

The entire cast are on great form: Ben Adams and Joanne Clifton are perfect as the awkward, virginal all-American couple Brad and Janet who are loured into the sexually liberated world of the devilish Dr. They are solidly supported by Kristian Lavercombe, Laura Harrison, and Miracle Chance. Lavercombe gives a suitably sleazy performance as the butler Riff-Raff. Harrison pulls double duty as Magenta and bookends the show as the Usherette, performing a fantastic rendition of Science Fiction/Double Feature. Chance puts in an eccentric turn as the unpredictable Columbia: also showcasing a fabulous vocal range.

Stephen Webb has a tough task breathing life into Frank N Furter however he more than rises to the challenge giving a much needed over-the-top performance packed full of charisma and a certain degree of unhinged menace. It’s Webb’s performance, which anchors the show and he more than delivers.

There was certainly a buzz in the air and a feeling of excitement throughout tonight’s performance with the audience chipping in as and when they saw fit, however, Corrie’s Beverley Callard as the Narrator was more than a match for them, with the audience lapping it up.

Director Christopher Lushcombe’s production is a fast-paced, energetic feast that you cannot help but sit back and enjoy. The camp sense of fun flowing through the production is aided by Hugh Durrant’s bold set design, complete with blood red wallpaper, a giant human, brain and a stuffed mounted dodo head is an absolute treat.

The show does have its flaws: the final act is all over the place which granted does add to the insanity of it all but can be a little too much, but this is a minor quibble on what is fantastic night out and the perfect tonic to fend off the January blues. So put aside the Christmas socks granny bought you, get your fishnets on and give yourself over to absolute pleasure… you won’t be disappointed!

Runs until 26 January 2019 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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