rocky horror cast

The Rocky Horror Show

The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham


Richard O’Brien’s cult classic is coming up to it’s 50th anniversary since making its West End debut in 1973. Clearly, it’s lost none of its appeal as this latest touring production struts it’s way around the country, providing a perfect blast of raunchy escapism to it’s die hard devotees and new fans alike.  

In terms of connecting with an audience, there really is nothing quite like it. Health and safety may not allow rice to be chucked on stage these days, but the fans do not disappoint when it comes to paying homage to their beloved spectacle.

Pre- show, the theatre bar resembles some sort of Anne Summers convention as people totter round in basques and suspenders, displaying impressive amounts of flesh . .  and that’s just the men!

For a cool Monday night in late September, its brave and fabulous in equal measure and sets the scene beautifully for what is to follow onstage.  

Plot wise, it’s all pretty straightforward. Brad and Janet, an innocent, loved up pair of ‘All American’ sweethearts are forced to call for assistance at a nearby spooky castle after their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.

All they want is to use the phone but it’s fair to say they get a hell of a lot more as the weird and wonderful housemates emerge to make this an evening they won’t forget.  

Amongst the delicious outrageousness, there is a respectful nod to the cult horror movies of the 1950s and 60s. O’Brien spices up the genre with more than a splash of campness and a set of rock n roll songs that get the already pumped-up crowd into a state of ecstasy.

Audience interaction never wanes. Certain lines are met with full on responses from the crowd. it’s almost as if the responses have become part of the script, to the point where the actors leave a gap where they know an audience member will fill it. 

Performances are strong throughout. Suzie McAdam’s delightful Usherette sets up the genre nostalgically with the song Science Fiction Double Feature before pulling back the ruched cinema curtain to kick off the ‘main programme’.  

Philip Franks’s Narrator’ is beautifully measured. It’s a gem of a role and allows not just for a setting up of the scenes but for a cheeky interaction with the audience. He even manages to mention the fuel crisis! 

Kristian Lavercombe is a gloriously menacing Riff Raff, dragging himself and his hump around the castle like Richard III on tranquilizers.  

Steven Webb‘s Frank-N-Furter is a force of nature. Tim Curry’s seminal film creation is a hard act to follow but Webb makes it his own, giving the character real power and mischief.  His Sweet Transvestite is delivered to perfection  

Hayley Flahety and Ore Uduba give the just right amount of bubble gum schmaltz as Janet and Brad respectively. Uduba can clearly sing too, a useful addition to the dancing ability we all know about from  Strictly.

Strong performances too from Lauren Ingram as Columbia (whatever was in that puff of smoke, I’m having some ) and Suzie McAdam doubling up as a somewhat ‘ hungry’ Magenta.  Ben Westhead flexes his muscles admirably as Rocky and the chorus drive the show’s non-stop pace and energy throughout 

The music is, of course, the beating heart of the show and Greg Arrowsmith’s onstage band pump out some classic numbers that include the ever popular Time Warp, a tune that was born to be reprised at the finale to get everyone up and dancing. And boy, did they do that.  

Theatre, at long last, is coming back. After some very dark days, it feels good to sit in an auditorium again and this is such a feel good show to get us right back in the mood. 

Outrageous, fabulous and pulsating from start to finish. Dig out those fishnets and get a wriggle on … tickets are selling fast. Warping through time to 02-10-21.

Tom Roberts


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