Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show – Musical Review

A declaration: Ok, hands up. I admit, I am a huge Rocky Horror fan. I first saw the film at age 13, and then my first production at around age 14 and have never looked back. It was a bit of a sexual awakening (Tim Curry, you will always have a place in my heart) and I adored all the call-outs, the dress-up and the gorgeous gender-bending queer campness of it all. I own sparkly silver Columbia style shoes. If I were ever to get a tattoo of something ‘inspirational’ (unlikely) it would probably read “Don’t dream it, be it.” So in some ways I’m utterly biased and in others, having seen many productions before, I might be in a good position to ‘compare and contrast’ à la GCSE English.

This latest tour follows an auspicious few years for the show, as it recently celebrated 40 years since its first production at The Royal Court in 1973. Some of the bigger celebrations included a version of this production at the London Playhouse Theatre last year, which starred creator Richard O’Brien as the Narrator and was broadcast live around the world.

Now with this tour, we get to see Christopher Luscombe’s production in all its B-Movie glory. Luscombe, as ever, proves he is a master of comedy – every lewd gesture, every sexual temptation, and every knowing wink is laid bare, much to the delight of the cast and audience.

Liam Tamne plays the iconic Frank-N-Furter for this production, his gorgeous voice adding a new take to many of Frank’s famous songs. He provides us with an altogether younger, fresher and perkier Frank for the first time in years – and it works! This Frank-N-Furter seems much more like a spoiled young prince/ss of Transsexual Transylvania, stomping his feet and flailing his whip when he doesn’t get his own way. He is all pouty lips, wide eyes and cheeky smiles. A sassy interpretation of such a well-known character.

Likewise, the absolutely heart-breaking Dominic Anderson (watch the girls and boys melt…) brings a rounded and more likeable Rocky than in many previous productions. Kristian Lavercombe, who has played Riff Raff over a thousand times, once again proves to us why. Lavercombe is consistently the most watchable thing on stage throughout and it is no surprise he holds the Riff Raff record.

Unfortunately, I wish the same could be said of Diana Vickers who I felt gave a rather flat performance as the naïve Janet and failed to achieve much sense of a real ‘sexual awakening’, but perhaps this was due to the rather subdued Monday night audience (I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Rocky audience so quiet!) Janet and Brad are notoriously tricky roles, but Ben Freeman does a good job as Brad Majors and his solo is an enjoyable moment of calm amidst the chaos. Mention must also be made of Paul Cattermole, whose Eddie is enjoyable, and Sophie Linder-Lee who has the time of her life playing the exuberant Columbia. Steve Punt is an affable and delightfully ruffled Narrator (definitely bringing a touch of the Radio 4 to proceedings) and I think will have lots more fun with a cheekier audience.

Hugh Durrant’s set begins rather flat, but much like Brad and Janet, blossoms into something much more fulfilling and sexy, the laboratory and main room of Frank’s castle being particular highlights. The lighting, from designer Nick Richings, is also lots of fun – where can I get a board of lights to spell out my name as I belt (badly) through Sweet Transvestite?

This is an incredibly fun production, and whilst I am a total Rocky nerd and think everyone should go at least once, this one does feel a little special. Luscombe has done it again, proving that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. You just need to put it in heels and fishnets.

The Rocky Horror Show
Aylesbury
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
18th – 23rd April, 2016

Cast

Usherette – Kay Murphy
Janet – Diana Vickers
Brad – Ben Freeman
Narrator – Steve Punt
Riff Raff – Kristian Lavercombe
Magenta – Kay Murphy
Columbia – Sophie Linder-Lee
Frank-N-Furter – Liam Tamne
Rocky – Dominic Anderson
Eddie – Paul Cattermole / Richard Meek
Dr Scott – Paul Cattermole / Richard Meek
Phantoms – Lauren Ingram, Ben Kerr, Will Knights, Hannah Malekzad
Swing / Dance Captain – Zachary Morris
Swing – Emily McGougan

Crew

Director – Christopher Luscombe
Set Designer – Hugh Durrant
Costume Designer – Sue Blane
Choreographer – Nathan M Wright
Lighting Designer – Nick Richings
Sound Designer – Gareth Owen
Musical Arrangements – Richard Hartkey
Associate Director – Simon Grieff

http://rockyhorror.co.uk/tour

© Carly Halse - Reviewed on Monday 18th April, 2016.

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