Music, Book and Lyrics: Richard O’Brien
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Fishnet stockings, sequin blazers, wigs, and feather boas are normally part of the onstage action at a theatre, but audiences at The Rocky Horror Show bring all these and more to their viewing experience. Not many – if any – other shows encourage this kind of enthusiastic participation and are so beloved around the world. This tour is bringing the incredible freedom and joy of Rocky Horror back to life in a fantastic way.
For those who haven’t experienced this cult classic before, Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is a musical about the exploits of Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, a newly engaged couple on their way home from their friends’ wedding. When they encounter car troubles, the two seek help from the occupants of a gothic castle in the woods. Combining a rock-and-roll score with sci-fi and sex, this unparalleled stage musical premiered in 1973, was made into a film in 1975, and has been delighting audiences from the stage and screen ever since.
The first character we meet is a cinema usherette, who introduces the show with Science Fiction/Double Feature. It’s brilliantly sung by Darcy Finden, who later becomes Columbia, and is even more delightful as the enthusiastic tapper and servant to the ever-popular Dr Frank-N-Furter (Stephen Webb). Janet and Brad, played by Haley Flaherty and Richard Meek, are impeccably performed, with singing voices fit to blast off the roof – which in the case of Janet, is a marked difference from Susan Sarandon’s cinematic portrayal – and which brings the score and story to new, delectable heights.
The entire ensemble works flawlessly to present this well-known piece, and it must be an enjoyable experience. The band is directed by Greg Arrowsmith and performs from above the stage, viewable through a constructed film strip at the top of the back wall (designed by Hugh Durrant); they sound exceptional, and they certainly look like they’re having a good time. All of these pieces come together to present a fantastic, thrilling performance. The Narrator, played on this occasion by Stefano Guerriero, deserves a special commendation for his self-aware comedic banter with the audience and luscious hair. He takes the Narrator from a bushy, dusty observer to a modern, proudly sexy historian. This team has made adjustments in all the right places to make this their production, but for it to still be the recognisable fan favourite. In what other show does the audience stand and dance along within the first 20 minutes?
Every second of this show is enjoyable – from the buzz felt in the audience simply entering the building to the surprise reprise (including full costume changes for the whole cast, with appreciation to costume designer Sue Blane). It showcases the luxury of complete freedom and the liberation of being truly yourself – be it sexy, voyeuristic, or even ugly – and will no doubt continue to electrify audiences throughout the tour.
We may just be “some insects called the human race,” but “give yourself over the absolute pleasure” and go see The Rocky Horror Show.
Runs Until 8 October 2022 and on tour