Rocky Horror Show has returned to the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham and I was delighted to watch it again, over two years after the last amazing performance.
Directed by Christopher Luscombe, Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show tells the story of Brad and his fiancée Janet, two all-American college kids who meet the charismatic Dr Frank’n’Furter and the strange and kooky inhabitants of a creepy mansion when their car breaks down. With hits including “Sweet Transvestite,” “Dammit, Janet” and the iconic “The Time Warp,” it is an adventure they’ll never forget, filled with frolics, frocks, and frivolity.
It may be the same show, but there were some changes in cast members and I was intrigued to see what effect this would have on the overall performance.
I wasn’t disappointed. Ore Oduba and Haley Flaherty were fabulous in their portrayals of Brad and Janet, and Haley Flaherty was particularly powerful in her vocal abilities, as she has been every time I have seen her on stage. Theatre legend Kristian Lavercombe was yet again completely brilliant and embodies every part of Riff Raff, a role that he has performed over 1800 times on stage (more than any other in the history of the show). One of my favourite songs of the whole show is “Science Fiction Double Feature,” performed by the Usherette, and Suzie McAdam did this beautifully, continuing to wow in the double role of Magenta. I’ve seen Laura Ingram as Columbia several times and each performance is as good as the next, giving it her all and being an incredible presence on stage. Joe Allen had the audience dancing in their seats during “Hot Patootie” as Eddie, continuing in the dual role of Dr Scott. Ben Westhead did a great job as Rocky – I was surprised to see that this was his professional musical theatre debut as he looked like a seasoned performer.
Philip Franks was brilliant as the Narrator – not an easy role to take on when you know that you’ll be heckled from the audience for most of the evening. He handled it superbly, and with updated one-liners that were related to the current petrol crisis and inadequate handling of the pandemic by the government it brought a fresh feel to a show that many know word for word, right down to the very last heckle. The beauty of a good narrator in this show is to make the audience feel like they have never heard the things that people are shouting out at them and are responding spontaneously, and he did this beautifully.
And of course, the star of the show was undoubtedly Stephen Webb in his return as the corset-wearing Frank. Charismatic, talented, an incredible vocal talent and looking FABULOUS, Webb kept the audience captivated throughout with his deep rock voice, sex appeal and connection with the rest of the cast.
A special shout-out goes out to Darcy Finden, Reece Budin, Jordan Fox and Rachel Grundy as the Phantoms. These are often overlooked characters but are responsible for the smooth running of the show, particularly in the changes of set (designed by Hugh Durrant), and they did it seamlessly while singing in perfect harmony. Kudos.
It’s fun, it’s camp, it’s naughty, completely outrageous, and one of my favourites, and The Rocky Horror Show is always the party that every single one of us needs.
Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets to the show, but were under no obligation to provide a positive review.