MusicalNorth East & YorkshireReview

Rocky Horror Show – Theatre Royal Newcastle

Reviewer: Anna Ambelez

Writer: Richard O’Brien

Director: Christopher Luscombe

A pink fluffy candy floss usherette (Suzie McAdam) opens the show with Science Fiction Double Feature, then straight into Brad (Richard Meek) proposing to sweetheart Janet (Haley Flaherty). The narrator (Jackie Clune) enters and sets the scene. On their way to meet their former college professor Dr Scott (Joe Allen), the sweetheart’s car breaks down near a creepy mansion and in they go.

Dr Frank-N-Furter (Stephen Webb) lives there with his weird ‘alien’ entourage of Riff Raff (Kristian Lavecombe), sister Magenta (Suzie McAdam), Columbia (Darcy Finden) and numerous others. Frank-N-Further has ‘created’ his model male Rocky (Ben Westhead). Manic behaviour, sexual explicitness and raunchy chaos then explode on stage, a humorous tribute to science fiction and horror films. Think Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust meets alien bisexual transvestite meets Dr Frankenstein; best not to try and follow the story but more live the experience, as they sing, “lost in time, lost in space…”

Richard O’Brien’s original script has become a timeless classic. First performed 49 years ago, it is the world’s favourite rock and roll show having been adapted to film in 1975 and to TV in 2016. Performed in over 30 countries, translated into over 20 languages and seen by over 30 million theatre goers, it has to have something.

The audience have become an integral part of the musical, many fitted out in costumes from the show, having interactive banter and heckling. Clune is well up to all comments: “there are those who think life is an illusion and they are both here from Sunderland.” She undoubtedly draws from her stand up experience. Haunted houses, glitter, corsets, music, transvestites, Rocky Horror has it all.

The lighting effects (Nick Richings) are outstanding and the superb live musicians eerily magically hovering above the set are excellent with musical arrangements from Richard Hartley and three others. There are many strong singers in the 18 songs, so unnecessary for some of them to almost screech out the songs, too loud, spoiling the effect. It is well over the top without adding to it. With 50+ weeks of non-stop shows in this tour alone, a voice needs care.

It has a cult following, one lady saying, “I must see it at least once a year”. As the song says, “Don’t Dream It, Be It” and Rocky Horror does just that. The Time Warp reprise had everyone up. Big, bold, brilliant, fabulous. All has been said before, one needs something original like the show itself, maybe ‘stupendiforous’ comes close? This show is so ‘out there’ – you either love it or loathe it. The packed theatre who unanimously gave a standing ovation adored it. So for any who have not seen the show, called ‘virgins’, what are you waiting for?

Runs until 26th November 2022.

The Reviews Hub Score

Exceptional experience

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The Reviews Hub - Yorkshire & North East

The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. 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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