The cast is incredible, the designs divine and the joys are endless. Erin Hutchinson urges you all to celebrate Rocky Horror’s big birthday and do the time warp again.
The Rocky Horror Show, Rocky Horror Company
Crown Theatre, 8 August 2023
Taking my Mum to another production of Rocky Horror, I had to explain that this will be unlike any she’s seen before. Yes, we’ve seen the film, we’ve had the immersive experience, we’ve sung our little hearts out along with a crowd of fans, but we’d never seen the stage show – until now. And what a delectable treat it is!
This show, the 50th anniversary production, is a star-studded (or stars in the making) sensation, with exceptional talent and design on display. It’s a laugh-out loud, constant smile-on-face, attention grabbing piece of escapism, whether you know the show or not.
Whilst not his first rodeo (or should it be time warp?), director Christopher Luscombe, with choreographer Nathan M Wright, keeps the production fresh, leaning heavily into simple and stylised choices that bring panto to mind. These work amazingly well, supporting the parody within the dialogue and songs, and showing just why the original 1973 fringe theatre event became a worldwide triumph.
You know the story; innocent couple Brad and Janet (played beautifully by WAAPA graduates Ethan Jones and Dierdre Khoo) halt at a mysterious mansion when they get a flat tyre. Invited in, they are led astray by the magnetic and debaucherous Frank N Furter (David Bedella) and his salacious servants. There’s lust, love, aliens and murder, and I think I have never enjoyed the text of this show as much as I did in this performance.
The cast are incredible. I’ve said in a past review of another production that no one could ever match Tim Curry – the original Frank. I still stand by this, but Laurence Olivier award-winning Bedella is certainly a close second. His performance has delicious vocal depth and a clear control of audience.
I’ve been a fan of Jones for a number of years, and it is wonderful to see him work with Khoo. They have immense talent we’re sure to see more of. Global film, TV and stage actor Nicholas Hammond (Narrator) delivers a masterful commentary of action, and I will probably now be transported into a planetary orbit watching all his work available online.
Darcy Eagle (Columbia), Loredo Malcolm (Rocky), Ellis Dolan (Eddie/Dr Scott) and Stellar Perry (Usherette/Magenta) are all excellent. There is a real sense of cohesion, and their vocals are outstanding. Henry Rollo in the difficult role of Riff Raff is a standout, pulling it off with pizzazz.
Likewise, the Phantom ensemble is polished and agile both vocally and physically, and the band, discretely placed above the set, sounds incredible under the direction of Jack Earle.
Filling the cavernous area of Crown Theatre can often be difficult, but designer Hugh Durrant has conceived a stage within a stage, creating a multi-level, compact and impressive set structure that allows for slick scene changes and works tightly with the dazzling lighting design by Nick Richings.
Heavy use of LED strips highlights the cinematic history of the work and provides a simple but dynamic colour and atmospheric changes. Combined with the retro, cartoon-esque set, it all looks fantastic. Gareth Owen’s sound design supports the action superbly, and Sue Blane’s costumes are visually exciting.
The more I go to Crown the more I enjoy it. The sound seems to be improving, it’s comfortable, and with a well-produced and performed short, sharp show like Rocky Horror, you’ve got time to grab a cocktail afterwards while you rave over the production.
Pictured top: Ethan Jones and Dierdre Khoo are fabulous as Brad and Janet in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’. Photo: Daniel Boud
Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.