50 years ago as a student in London, I saw the initial production of the Rocky Horror Show at the Royal Court Theatre in London’s Sloane Square.
Last night on my own time warp saw this cult classic again at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre.
Richard O’Brien’s legendary rock ‘n’ roll musical has the longest continuous run of a contemporary musical anywhere in the world and has been seen by 30 million people.
It is the love story of two squeaky clean college kids Brad and his fiancée Janet whose hearts are filled with naive promise. When their car breaks down outside a creepy mansion they start an adventure they’ll never forget.
We follow Brad (Richard Meek) and Janet (Haley Flaherty) as they have a flat tyre and get lured into a mansion of debauchery and pleasure by the corset-wearing Dr Frank-N-Furter (Stephen Webb).
He may be a Sweet Transvestite from Transylvania, but Stephen owns the role made so iconic by Tim Curry in both the stage and film versions. From the moment Stephen Webb steps out in ‘Sweet Transvestite’ through to the swan song of ‘Going Home’, he displays a masterful control of his voice and the stage.
Hugh Durrant’s sets are superb and high above them the five-piece live band perform the scintillating soundtrack to perfection.
Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the Rocky Horror Show features classic tunes including Sweet Transvestite, Damn it Janet, and of course, the show stopping Time Warp.
Nathan M Wright’s choreography is full of life. Phantom dancers burst out from behind set pieces and tinsel curtains. Nick Richings’ lighting design is full of rich colour.
Kristian Lavercombe steals the show as Riff Raff, Frank’s hunchbacked sidekick. With more than 2,000 performances, Kristian has performed the show more than anyone else. Together with Suzie Mcadam as Magenta, Frank’s maid and Riff Raff’s sister, this is one freaky pair.
Philip Franks is superb as the Narrator and engages in witty repartee with the comments from the audience. He uses some topical commentary poking fun at Boris Johnson and Suella Braverman.
Haley Flaherty is an excellent Janet as her character moves from her nervous early scenes into a sexually liberated woman in ‘Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me’.
The evocative lyrics of ‘Don’t Dream It, Be It’ convey the core message of the show, which is to embrace your true inner self.
The crowd-pleaser, Time Warp never fails to wow the audience, especially when reprised at the end.
So let’s all do the Time Warp again. It’s astounding!
It is an iconic show that makes people happy and is now a piece of musical theatre history.
A show you have to see at least once in your lifetime.
Long may this rebellious counter-culture musical comedy continue to connect with audiences – hopefully for the next fifty years.
- The Rocky Horror Show runs until Saturday 25th March. Tickets are on sale at mayflower.org.uk or 02380 711811.
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