When I received the tickets and saw the The Rocky Horror Picture Show was being performed at Nottingham’s ‘Royal Concert Hall’ and not the ‘Theatre Royal’, my immediate thought was ‘uh-oh’, it’s a monstrous cash grab. With Duncan James from Blue and Joanne Clifton of Strictly fame heading up the cast - this can’t be credible theatre right? Wrong.
Oh my - what a show!
This cult classic, from the 70’s, is still standing strong after 40 years on the stage. Rocky Horror is infamously one of the hardest plays to get performance rights for as an amateur group, as it is always on somewhere in the UK. It has also been translated into over 20 languages and been performed in more than 30 different countries. It is a hit wherever and whenever it is performed. It truly is a musical like no other, encouraging audition interaction from the off-set, the most glorious, weird and wonderful costumes, set and a storyline that still remains relevant today.
I will never tire of writer Richard O’Brian’s wonderful and creative songs, with fantastic musicality and outrageous lyrics. If anything I think it’s a shame that the 77 year old, former Crystal Maze host, hasn’t written more!
The audience interaction is truly incredible. Regular Rocky Horror audiences know the script off by hand, and know the perfect places to heckle and join in. Actor Philip Franks held the reigns In the role of the narrator. Firstly, what a voice that man has - simply captivating. But Franks knew the exact pauses, to encourage the audience, and as a seasoned narrator with impeccable whit, knew exactly how to respond to the audience. With references to current affairs, banter with the audience and sign language performer, some of the best and biggest laughs came straight from the hands of Franks himself.
Lets talk Time Warp. I have never before seen a room of 2,000 people on their feet, doing the Time Warp. What an amazing experience to be part of, and thanks to a cheesy dance song that has stood the test of time. The choreographer didn’t mess around with it too much, and kept the moves simple, allowing the audience to feel part of the production. The song was lead by the wonderful character of Riff Raff, played by Kristian Lavercombe. Lavercombe played Riff Raff in a way that did the original character, played by the writer Richard O’Brian justice. His voice, movements, posture, delivery and timing were perfect for the character.
I smiled, laughed and nearly cried throughout the performance. As a frequent theatre go-er, having seen many different productions, of many different shows from amateur to tour to west-end. It is not easy for me to say this, but this is one of the greatest shows I have ever seen, and this was a fantastic production of this spellbinding show. The moment Frank-N-Furter walked on stage in this production is in at number 3 in my all time favourite moments of theatre (1. The finale of Slava’s Snow Show, 2. Defying Gravity from Wicked).
The star of the show, Frank-N-Furter, played by Duncan James, absolutely had the audience entranced from the start. The performance was truly intoxicating. It’s true Duncan is a born entertainer. He is devilish, naughty and electrifyingly funny. His sexual lip roles, pelvic thrusts will really drive you insane.
As with any show, there is no such thing as perfection, Columbia, was amazing and beautiful - however, the squeaky voice came at the cost of her diction for the first 7 lines she said - which, unfortunately is the majority of her lines. The actor playing Eddie is billed as a rock singer in the programme, however his performance of Hot Patootie was kin to a relatively good karaoke version, but with the likes of Meatloaf and Adam Lambert previously embodying the character, anyone would struggle to meet the mark.
Before anyone goes to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show, there is a section on their website with a ‘virgins guide’ to the show. Apart from being a hilarious read, it is so true. The audience dressing up, having fun, fitting in (by being a cluster of misfits) is the best way to enjoy the show - no one should ever feel weird or out of place in the Rocky Horror audience. I went with a friend who had never seen the show (or film) before, and she still adored the exhilarating eccentricity and the captivating campness of the whole affair. It is Thrilling electrifying, inspiring, dynamic and best of all - zesty.
If you have never been, go. If you have been to an old version of the show, go and see this production, if you have seen this production - I’m sure like me you’ll be booking tickets to go and see it again. It is laugh after laugh, song after song, whoop stomp and cheer after every line!
The Rocky Horror Picture Show tour is up and down the country for the next 2 months ending in Wolverhampton on the 19th of October. Tickets are available for as little as £12.50