The Rocky Horror Show is unique. That is the single word that sums it up. It’s so wonderfully weird and bizarre but, my God, it’s good. It is showing at the Playhouse Theatre for a strictly limited run before embarking on a UK Tour. This production was directed by Christopher Luscombe (previous productions of Rocky Horror, Spamalot, Importance of Being Earnest).
The father of Rocky Horror is undoubtably Richard O’Brien. He played the Narrator for the Playhouse run. As soon as he walked on the stage the crowd were on their feet and cheering. Rightly so, the whole plot, music and setting was all dreamt up by O’Brien. It was something quite special to see the creator of the thing that we so love right on onstage in front of you.
David Bedella (In the Heights, Hedwig and the Angry Itch, Chicago) played Doctor Frank-n-Furter. I was nervous about because Tim Curry was so memorable in the film. I was pleasantly amazed – my God, he was good! Frank-n-Furter knows how to make an entrance. ‘Sweet Transvestite’ was outstanding.
Kristian Lavercombe (Urinetown, Jesus Christ Superstar, Oliver!) and Jayde Westaby (Jersey Boys, Saturday Night Fever, Mamma Mia) played Riff Raff and Magenta. Lavercombe had a tough act to follow with O’Brien having played the role in the film. He was outstanding. Westaby was brilliant as Magenta and the Usherette who sings ‘Double Feature’. The pair performed perfectly together.
Sophie Linder-Lee (Wicked, Mamma Mia) was cast as Columbia. Little Nell was much loved in the role so it was a lot to live up to. Linder-Lee was brilliant, keeping her cool when her hat fell off while she was tap dancing during the ‘Time Warp’.
Rocky was played by Dominic Anderson (Cats). The line that was usually “blonde hair and a tan” was changed to “dark hair and a tan”. Wow. Anderson was perfect for the role. What a body!
Richard Meek (I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change, Spamalot, Starlight Express) played Eddie and Dr Scott. He was wonderful in both roles. ‘Hot Patootie – Bless my Soul’ is a very fun and energetic number (one of my personal favourite numbers from the show). I personally, preferred Meatloaf’s version (who played Eddie in the film) but Meek was very good. His Dr Scott was even better performing a wonderful ‘Eddie’ (song this time!)
Brad and Janet were played by Ben Forster (Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, soon to be The Phantom) and Haley Flaherty (Love Never Dies, Mamma Mia, Grease). ‘Damnit Janet’ and ‘Over at the Frankenstein Place’ was skillfully performed by the two.
It was a wonderful experience. It was well done because, at the end of the show, they did a kind of encore and did the ‘Time Warp’ and ‘Sweet Transvestite’ again.
The audience made it. So many people dressed up as characters from the show (Frank-N-Furter and Columbia were the favourites), on their feet dancing, really getting involved. There were little pieces of feather boas all over the place (bet the cleaning staff love it!) and the staff had a full time job watching the crowd during the performance (no lighters, no photos…).
The Playhouse Theatre is a very nice venue with easy access from Embankment tube station. It is not a huge venue which is better, sometimes, than the huge theatres like the Palladium. The bar area was too small for the number of people and there weren’t enough places to stand so there was kind of a traffic jam before the auditorium was opened.
The merchandising could have been so much better! First of all, poster. Second of all, have a couple of different t-shirts – one with just the logo and another with a line from the show. A brochure would have been nice with all the pictures taken of the show, maybe some from previous productions of it and the film. It is such an iconic show that people would have bought all of the above.
All in all a wonderful show and experience. It’s astounding.