The Rocky Horror Show is ‘40 and Fabulous’ and finally here in Melbourne.

It’s astounding… no really it is! The Rocky Horror Show is ‘40 and Fabulous’ and finally here in Melbourne after sell out seasons in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.  We headed to the Comedy Theatre for the Melbourne Media call to hear all about the 40th anniversary production opening on Saturday 26th April, 2014. (images by: James Terry)

We were first welcomed by John Frost, who reminded us of what a big, exciting year it is for Melbourne Music Theatre. Frost said “with the opening of Grease earlier in the year and now the Rocky Horror Show, Wicked opens in a couple of weeks time at the Regent, followed by The King and I around the corner at the Princess Theatre and then of course the brand new Broadway musical Once in September” amongst many others. He then announced that due to such successful ticket sales before the curtain has even been raised; Rocky Horror Show has been extended by three weeks.

The cast performed two spectacular numbers for us, ‘Time Warp’ and ‘ Sweet Transvestite’. The chemistry was so strong, we were immediately drawn into their world regardless that the songs were performed out of context of the show. It felt like there were a lot more than 14 performers creating the warped world in front of us.

Speaking with the cast, it was evident that the chemistry between them was not just in performance. They laughed reminiscing they have had lots of strange, but wonderful encounters that only audiences of Rocky Horror could get away with. Whether it had been, bold costuming choices in a public forum, a lack of clothing and exposure in the theatre or being flashed, the cast has really seen it all. Christie Whelan-Browne (Janet) says they’d had “the blokiest men in fishnets, its like whoever you are, let your freak flag fly and its okay. That’s the joy people have when they come in, a feeling of belonging. Its really lovely.”

It’s been 22 years since Craig McLauchlan dazzled the stage as Frank N Furter, explaining he has a “history with the show, particularly as a kid, coming back to it 20 years later I’m actually enjoying the interaction and audience response more”. McLauchlan continues, “revisiting the show as a more experienced performer I’m getting so much more out of the piece. A big part of that enjoyment is the audience. Whatever I dish out up on stage, not only are they totally up for it but they can volley it straight back at me. Which makes for a wonderfully exciting, naughty, interactive night of live entertainment.”

So, what can Rocky Horror Fans expect this time around? “Everything they love about Rocky Horror Show…turned up to 10!” says McLachlan. Erika Heynatz (Magenta) agrees saying “It’s a unique musical in that it really invites the audience to get involved rather than wanting people to be spectators, they’re a part of it. As a performer its something I’ve never experienced before. From the second we start they are singing along and before you know it up and dancing”. Heynatz recalls one audience member who “was dressed with the face and hair of Frank N Furter and Magenta down below. I figured that’s great, we want people to explore all of that, it’s such a big part of the message. The freedom to explore whatever it is you want to explore.”

Heynatz also spoke of what it was like meeting Rocky Horror creator Richard O’Brien and to realise how lucky she was to witness “the joy it brings someone from something they have created 40 years on”. O’Brien, known to many as the original Riff Raff, visited the show in Adelaide. “He is so appreciative and that’s absolute magic, there is no greater feeling to be around someone that is a gracious performer and someone that’s contributed so much. His story has found a place in a lot of peoples hearts” Heynatz said. 

The cast are thrilled to bring this much loved, iconic musical back to Melbourne. Luigi Lucente (Phantom) says “it’s so great to be home in Melbourne catching the tram to the show, we can’t wait to get it in front of an audience”. McLauchlan was looking forward to seeing how the audience of Melbourne would respond to the show “It does vary from each city… In Brisbane the audience naughtiness was contained to what Rocky Horror is all about. Perth was a different sort of sensibility and call outs were directed at Craig and I would never bring Craig onto the stage, only Frank N Furter. You make some sort of gag out of the situation. In Adelaide it was different again but overall people are so up to be part of the show as opposed to just spectators, way more so than 20 years ago. Some actors find calls outs annoying or confronting, I revel in them”

So ‘don’t dream it, be it’ and be sure to get tickets while you can. Tim Maddren (Brad) says “At the heart of this there is a message of freedom and a message of come as you are, doesn’t matter who you are, come and have fun. From where we have been around the country, that’s what we have seen!” It’s your turn to Time Warp again Melbourne!


Images by: James Terry