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The Rocky Horror Show – Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Director: Christopher Luscombe

Reviewer: Rosie Revell

[Rating: 4.5]

therockyhorrorshowIncredibly, forty years after first time warping into popular culture and more importantly audience hearts, Richard O’Brien’s cross dressing musical The Rocky Horror Show is still going strong and thrilling audiences up and down the country. A cult classic; this all new Rocky Horror Show stormed back to Bradford for what is billed as the “party production” and it certainly lived up to expectation.

The show, written by Richard O’Brien, first premiered in 1973 and was designed as a 1950’s B-movie spoof, pastiching the monster, horror and science fiction movies of the time. The show is unique, silly, deliciously naughty and tremendous fun. Telling the story of all American sweethearts Brad (Ben Forster) and Janet (Dani Harmer), whose car breaks down one stormy night. The couple take refuge in the creepy house with its bizarre inhabitants, aliens from another planet, and it’s a night Brad and Janet will never forget.

As familiar as the show is, it is still a pleasure to sit back and watch the cast’s interpretation of it and their interactions with the audience. Unlike most theatre productions Rocky positively encourages audience participation particularly heckling and the smuttier the better. Phillip Franks’ Narrator has to put up with perhaps the most and in doing so he steals the show. Playing it straight but with a knowing tone Franks is hilariously funny and takes audience heckles in his stride.

The principal cast are impressive with the well-worn material. The songs sparkle and the vocal performances are fantastic especially with audience sing-along favourites where the words are clear and the dancing crisp. All the sing –along favourites are there; ‘Sweet Transvestite’ ‘Hot Patootie’ and ‘There’s a Light’ to name but a few but ‘The Time Warp’ is still the highlight ramping up audience anticipation and getting them on their feet.

Lavercombe’s take on creepy butler Riff Raff (often sidelined) channels just the right amount of Richard O’Brien and rock n roll to create a much more memorable character. Oliver Thornton’s sweet transvestite Frank-N-Furter is a guilty pleasure, strutting across the stage with his enviable pair of legs and marvellous singing voice. Thornton knows and plays the audience like a fiddle making them wait for the famous lines and clearly having a good time while doing it.

The only real niggle here is with his big entrance. Usually the anticipation has reached fever pitch after ‘The Time Warp’ as we await Frank-N-Furter. The music and cast usually help to ramp up the tension. Here it seemed a little rushed and flat but the energy with which ‘Sweet Transvestite’ is performed soon after makes up for it.

Director Christopher Luscombe directs the cast to produce a show that did not disappoint; Rocky Horror at its absolute best and like Frank-N- Furter’s legs long may it go on.

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