I have to admit I have been a regular Frankie fan for over 30 years but I must say that this production of the cult Rocky Horror Show is one of the best I have seen.
Starring David Bedella as Frank ‘N’ Furter who, in my humble opinion, is the best Frank since, well since Tim Curry – this touring production is essentially the same show as the 2007/8 show but with a few tweaks and tassels here-and-there.
In this show we have Haley Flaherty as Janet (she recently toured in Mama Mia!) instead of Suzanne Shaw (from Hear’Say) … and if I am honest I think that Haley does a better job playing Janet – who has to transform from uptight hometown virgin to sexy vampish diva before your very eyes (similar to the character Sandy in Grease.)
Ainsley Harriott was our guest ‘criminologist’ (narrator) with his bulging eyes, chubby faced grin and none of the normal pomposity that comes with the character. As it happens, Ainsley did a very fine job and the crowd were delighted. Magenta was played by Australian Kara Lane, and she played the character with more slinky, sassy style and a darn sight more sexily than I have ever seen before.
Bright-as-a-button Columbia was played by Ceris Hine. Our Brad on the night was played by understudy Stuart Ellis and the small but perfectly formed Rocky was played by Dominic Tribuzio (High School Musical.) This glossy acrobatic Charles Atlas styled ‘monster’ bounced around the stage with enormous gusto. A nice touch was that Rocky first appeared to the audience as an ‘airfix’ model complete with Village People accessories.
It is hard to imagine that the Rocky Horror Show first came to the stage in 1973. Since then tens of millions of fans around the world have dressed up to act out, sing-along and heckle the actors in the show and also at special get together film showings.
Nowadays rice and water pistols are forbidden in the theatres (but I once went to a production in Key West, Florida where the management gave each member of the audience a large ‘party bag’ containing every prop needed for all the one-liners and the ‘in jokes’.)
But the show is not caught up in a celluloid jam- and this 2009 production is a spicy, fresh and frequently naughty jaunt into an erotic, freaky world … cool enough for the noughties audience to enjoy. It is a measure of the sophistication of the 21st century audience that the famous bed scene is now appreciated as a hearty joke for the whole family to enjoy, where internet-educated grans sitting alongside their teen grand-daughters, and chuckle along together to the sexual innuendos involving oral and anal sex and activity tantamount to rape. Back in the Seventies, when I first saw this show, the scene was considered to be shabby and scandalous enough to earn the show an ‘adults only’ stamp of disapproval.
For those of you who have not seen the show (and I was sitting next to two older ladies who had never seen the show or even the film before – so they are still out there) the second half fairly zips along and is almost a ‘rock opera’ rather than a musical, using only songs and very few words to paint the pictures. The band, directed by Steve Hill (Wicked, Mama Mia! etc) is above and to the rear of the stage (rather than in the pit) and this elevated position is also used for some of the solos and gives the stage the atmosphere of a sleazy club. The band was vulgar and bold enough to get the audience hot and alive and very much in the mood for dancing. The band pushed out the sounds in great waves when required.
The big numbers of the show are the famous Time Warp ‘theme tune’ (you must have heard that) and Frank ‘N’ Furter’s entrance song ‘Sweet Transvestite’ but I have always also loved Eddie’s ‘theme’ (in this production Eddie is played by Nathan Amzi) for it’s sheer joyful celebration of rock n roll life. “All he wanted- Was rock and roll porn. And a motorbike.”
On the weak side (I thought) were Riff-Raff (played by Brian Mcann) who lacked the ‘other worldly’ quality of Richard O’Brien’s character and whose voice was a little too wispy for me, and Brad – who seemed like a little lost bunny rabbit constantly dazzled by the headlights.
This show is definitely value for money and I guarantee that it will put a smile on your face and a glow in your heart for days and days after … … one of the striking things about this show (which explains its longevity and it’s loyal fan-base) is that it truly brings out the best in people. Folk are never happier than when dressed up in silly pantomime clothes and joined together to sing and dance to some doo-wopping, good old fashioned rock n rolling show-tunes.
Oh, and if you if you intend to catch this show as it tours the UK, please please make an effort to dress-up … even if it is just by wearing a red feather boa. This advice is for your own good, because nothing, absolutely nothing feels worse than being the only ‘straight’ boy or girl (or as they say in ‘mortal’) at a Rocky Horror Show. You have been warned.
Rocky Horror Show
Theatre Royal Brighton
Monday 26 October 2009 to Saturday 31 October 2009
On Saturday 31st October at the Brighton Sea Front the cast and many, many fans are going to attempt a ‘world record’ for
doing the longest (as in distance) Time Warp … come down and be a part. Don’t Dream It – Be it.
Mon 02nd Nov 2009 to Sat 7th Nov 2009
Mon 09th Nov 2009 to Sat 14th Nov 2009
Mon 23rd Nov 2009 to Sat 28th Nov 2009
The King’s Theatre (Glasgow)