Loyal fans and first-timers, filled The Grand Opera House, Belfast ready to be entertained and boy were they! THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is extreme, enjoyable and wild high-octane party.
This cult classic was first introduced to me when I was around 10 years old by my dad who loves the show, yes I know what you are thinking that is way to young for the majority of the content, I do agree, though it was the 80’s and I was very Green lol, from that moment I have been hooked on the music, dance movies and campy comedy.
The show is fast approaching it’s 50th Anniversary which I find mindboggling as the songs and subject matter are equally current and taboo. It all started in London, June 1973 at the Royal Courts Theatre Upstairs, before an audience of just 63 people, since then Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show has been performed worldwide in more than 30 countries and translated into 20 languages. In 1975 the film adaptation took over $135 million at the Box Office and is still shown in cinemas around the world more than 45 years after its premiere, making it the longest running theatrical release in cinema history.
NEW TO THE PARTY? The show tells the story of Brad and his fiancée Janet, two squeaky clean college kids who meet Dr Frank’n’Furter by chance. It’s an adventure they’ll never forget, with fun, frolics, frocks and frivolity, bursting with timeless songs and outrageous outfits. The Rocky Horror Show is a guaranteed party, which famously combines science-fiction, horror, comedy and music while encouraging audience participation - meaning, of course, getting dressed-up in the most outrageous fancy dress.
Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the smash hit show features all of the famous musical numbers which have made The Rocky Horror Show such a huge hit for over four decades, including “Sweet Transvestite”, “Science Fiction/Double Feature”, “Dammit Janet” and, of course, the timeless floor-filler, “The Time-Warp” - this is perfect show to help people forget the doom and gloom of recent months.
Let’s jump into the review, last night was an evening of diabolical chaos firstly it was great to see show many dressed for the occasion, the place had such a feel good atmosphere.
Suzie McAdam as the Usherette unabashedly belts the opening number, "Science Fiction/Double Feature" to whooping applause. She also delights when she reappears later as Magenta leading the immensely energetic "Time Warp".
We are then introduced to strait-laced college sweethearts Brad (Ore Oduba) and fiancée Janet (Hayley Flaherty) as their car breaks down on a dark, rainy night.
Oduba, most well known as a TV host, who regularly frequents the BBC and for his succuss on Strictly Come Dancing is an interesting choice to be thrusting his hips to the TIME WARP and yet encapsulates the audience with his portrayal of Brad. He offers sombre moments, impresses with musical numbers, and dazzles with dance moves; it is not surprising that he’s previously won STRICTLY COME DANCING, though if I am honest at times the acting was flat.
Flaherty on the other hand, is perhaps was favourite to watch, she is a triple-threat actress and the perfect Janet, the all-American sweetheart who flutters across the stage with grace and impressive vocal range, I simply loved her, such poise, comic timing and flawless dancing, having discovered she trained at The Royal Ballet School and Laine Theatre Arts makes complete sense. She is a seasoned performer in her own right appearing in Matilda, Mama Mia, Grease and The Mousetrap to name a few.
Stranded, they have no choice but to brave the weather and seek refuge, they come across an eerie mansion where their innocence and commitment to each other are tested by the risqué homeowner, Dr Frank N Furter (Stephen Webb). Frank, a cross-dressing mad scientist, uses his guile and provocation to warp the couple’s minds, inviting them in for a night they could never forget. THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is a high-octane party.
Webb commands the stage as Frank N Furter, garnering huge cheers of encouragement from the crowd as he struts around in fishnets. The cheeky bedroom sequence at the top of the second act is hilariously portrayed by Webb, Flaherty and Oduba. Webb is in his element, and he leaves you wanting more, more more…
Philip Franks did not appear as the narrator, though we were treated to the refreshingly talented Reece Budin, he charismatically steered the audience through the chaotic and silly tale. He responds to shoutouts from the audience with quick wit and his comments on Prince Andrew and other current affairs had us all in a wrinkle lol. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance constantly taking the mick out of himself, he is one to watch
Lauren Ingram was a delight to watch as Columbia, as the girlfriend of Eddie the role is somewhat limited in the movie, I loved seeing the character elaborated on stage, she has a solo sequence that is hilarious, it is a few minutes of comedic genius, bravo, takes a certain talent to pull that off
A special mention must go to Kristian Lavercombe, he has captivated audiences with his portrayal of Riff Raff more than 2000 times, he reached this milestone last week. The guy has pure rock god vocal ability, I was in awe with the notes he was reaching. Having performed with 14 different casts and have spent 18 months as Riff Raff on stage we very much hope he is in for the long hall, I couldn’t imagine anyone more perfect for the role which was originally played by creator Richard O’Brien.
Ben Westhead shows off his muscular physique as Frank N Furter's Frankenstein-esque creation, Rocky. Between flexing and press-ups, he also displays a strong vocal in "The Sword of Damocles" as he adjusts to his new surroundings. Also, must applaud the budgie smugglers, the audience were drooling almost as much as Frank lol
Joe Allen doubles us as Eddie and Dr Scott, he was perfect, fans of the movie will recall Meatloaf originating the role, with his passing recently I felt the performance really poignant, the look and vocals were on point. His comic timing and accent worked wonderfully as Dr Scott.
The scenery generally is modest in quality - for example, the flat pack nature of Brad and Janet's car. The colourful lighting ensures bright hues blast from every inch of the stage, and effective trickery suggests lightning bolts and laser beams. Costumes were all incredible, the stage was full of glittering corsets and eye-catching lingerie, contrasting with Brad and Janet's vintage formal wear.
Choreography by Nathan M Wright matches the high-energy score and the cast appear to be having a ball delivering the catchy numbers. Everyone is on their feet joining in with a finale reprise of "Time Warp".
This production of Rocky Horror Show is an indulgently silly evening of theatre. Whether you're well versed in the participatory element of the show's following, or completely new to the experience you're sure to have a blast