The Rocky Horror Show is back! Fresh, fabulous, energetic and shaking off the controversy and allegations that riddled the previous tour, it brings the house down with an opening night party full of laughs, sparkles and glamour.
The show shakes off the ‘imitate the movie exactly on stage’ thing, with the Tim Currie impersonations thrown out the window. Todd McKenney takes the stage in his dream role, and he smashes it, playing Frank as a sassy Joan Crawford-esque, Aussie rock star. He really comes into his own in the second act, dazzling in the Floorshow and giving a warm and touching performance in ‘Going Home’. The biggest screams and roars of the audience at the end are for him.
(And also, for Shane!) Shane Jacobson makes a delightful appearance as the Narrator, rocking his moon boot, though it lacks the promised bedazzling. He’s quick to insult heckling crowd members and play along.
Rob Mallet soars in his solo number ‘Once in a While’, and Michelle Smitheram is saccharine sweet, but has very safe fun with ‘Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me’.
Joining her as Rocky, Brendan Irving is the embodiment of a god, with impressive physical stamina and both athletic and dance savvy moves. He warms up vocally as the show goes on, smashing out the Floorshow, but may have succumb to some nerves, or the intensity of running around the stage, in The Sword of Damocles.
James Bryers runs away with the show in his short but sweet cameo as Eddie.
It’s refreshing to see Amanda Harrison as Magenta not imitating the movie straight up – she has a fresh take on the role, though lacking in the incestuous, dangerous vibe she has with Riff Raff and she doesn’t steal the show in ‘The Time Warp’, leaving Kristian Lavercombe to shine as Riff Raff, who is vocally unmatched throughout the show.
Nadia Komazec sparkles throughout, as a space cadet, childish Columbia, and the Phantoms round out the crazy party, all bustling with energy, charisma and mania.
The show has a strange mix of accents, from a few American accents, the introduction of the confused Transylvanian accents towards the end, Jacobson’s occa Australian accent, and a hint of British dame from McKenney, it begs the question, were accents directed upon or let run wild? It doesn’t detract from the fun, just occasionally sticks out like a sore thumb. The second act also feels rushed, especially in numbers like ‘Eddie’s Teddy’ and ‘Planet Schmanet’.
The sound levels are a little high, with audiences actually jumping when the band started playing, and occasions where the band risked overpowering the cast. The band, in fantastic staging that has them above the action in the back of the set, completely rock out and not a note is out of place. The show could use a little more of the ad-libbing and sass that make the show so good, but a reminder to audience members that this is a musical, and the entire script of responses to the movie need not apply here, though again, Jacobson dealt with them wittingly in his monologues.
Choreography, by Nathan M Wright and resident choreographer Leah Howard, is snappy and fast paced, but missing the delightful tapping in ‘The Time Warp’.
The audience go mental for the encores, and Jacobson wins this round of trying to one up and out improvise McKenney, planting a big kiss on him at the curtain call. If you’re not grooving in your seat and up dancing by the end, you’re doing this night at the theatre wrong.
This is a party night out at the theatre of everyone’s favourite cult musical movie! Catch The Rocky Horror Show at Her Majesty’s Theatre until 26 August.
Tickets and more info: https://rockyhorror.com.au/tickets/melbourne/