The Rocky Horror show is first and foremost a production MADE for theatre.
It made its debut in a small 63-seat London theatre in 1973. Starring, even then, Tim Curry as the incomparable Frank N Furter. It proved so popular, that within 5 months it had moved to a 500-seat theatre; and 2 years later, it was the 2nd biggest grossing film of the year (2nd only to Jaws), and what is still the 8th highest grossing movie based on a musical, of all time. Its transformation into the movie, did not end its theatrical prominence though. In fact, it accelerated it.
The (what creator Richard O’Brien calls) ‘juvenile’ show attracts audiences that don the costumes of their favourite characters, they sing along with the iconic and sometimes senseless hits, and throw in contributions to the story, or add remarks on a character’s temperament. It is so commonplace to the production that the narrator often plays up to it and the characters embrace in their performance. It has become an unspoken ritual at the Rocky Horror Show.
It is the audience participation and liveliness that ultimately makes this an experience. For this, there is no musical quite like it. Well, on this planet anyway!
Duncan James, starring as Frank N Furter in this touring production, was welcomed to the stage with an eruption of cheer and standing ovation. No star, in any performance I’ve witnessed, has received quite the welcome. I was unsure whether the former boyband star could pull of such an iconic portrayal. But I was blown away. In fact, it was evident during the encore that throughout the show he was actually the embodiment of the character. As it was only during the goodbyes that he could be recognised as himself. He was absolutely spectacular and a must see.
I was also thrilled to see Kristian Lavercombe return to the Bristol theatre as Riff Raff who once more electrified the stage with his portrayal. Having starred in over 1400 performances of the show, he is as iconic as the show itself.
Laura Harrison, as the usherette and Magenta, was an incredible chameleon- sensational voice and performance and I was completely blown away when I realised, they were the same person! A special note to Joanne Clifton, as Janet, and James Darch as Brad; both delivered the naivety turned sexual prowess brilliantly and their portrayals were extremely funny.
The open promiscuity, exploration of sexuality and the question of self-identity are the foundational ingredients to the international phenomenon that expands decades and draws in audiences time after time. This performance was no different.
For one night, you can let your inner selves shines, be free and have the best time of your lives. It’s not a show to sit idly at. You have to grasp at it with both hands, dance and sing along to your favourites and of course be open to the banter- because at Rocky Horror the audience, and cast, don’t hold back!
I wish I could be doing the Time Warp all over again. Until next time.
The Rocky Horror Show will be at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 22nd of June before it continues on its tour around the country.