The Rocky Horror Show

RHS_photo by Brian Geach_reviewFollowing its outrageously successful seasons in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne in 2014, The Rocky Horror Show has returned to the Comedy Theatre for a brief four-week outing, following its recent Sydney season.

With music, lyrics and a book by Richard O’Brien. The Rocky Horror Show is a tribute to the horror and science fiction movies of the 1940 – 70s. The original London production, produced and directed by Jim Sharman, premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in June 1973.

The original Australian stage production opened in Sydney in April 1974, running for almost two years and featuring Reg Livermore as Frank’n’Furter. A subsequent Melbourne production in late 1975 featured Max Phipps as Frank’n’Furter and Joan Brockenshire as Magenta. And who could forget the classic cult film released in 1975 starring Tim Curry as Frank’n’Furter and its author, Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff.

Recreated by Thern Reynolds, Christopher Luscombe’s direction of Rocky Horror is a wild and an untamed thing. While it may lack the subversive edge of its predecessors, it’s certainly a fun night out, watching this tightly honed cast relish in the material that features many timeless classics, Sweet Transvestite, Damn it Janet, and of course, the Time Warp.

Hugh Durrant’s design pays homage to both the English pantomime and the shows film heritage, complimented by Nick Richings’ lighting, to create a rock n roll feel. Sue Blane’s costumes have a wonderfully humourous gothic feel, while Nathan M Wright’s choreography is splendid fun.

Jayde Westaby, first seen as an archetypical 1950s usherette, later materialises as the hot and feisty Magenta, Kristian Lavercombe, once again ups the ante and is suitably impressive as Franks’ loyal henchman, Riff Raff, with an incredible vocal range and moves to match, while Angelique Cassimatis is a stand-out as the bright and bubbly as Frank’s groupie, Columbia.

Stephen Mahy and Amy Lehpamer are lovably sweet as the hapless young innocents Brad and Janet, Nicholas Christo brings a classic rock edge as Eddie, only to return later as the wheelchair bound Dr Scott, and Brendan Irving is suitably buffed as Rocky. TV icon, Bert Newtown joins as the Narrator, proving a popular choice with the opening night audience, while Meghan O’Shea, Suzanne Steele, Darren Tyler and Drew Weston round out the cast as the highly energetic Phantoms.

However, the night belongs to Craig McLachlan as the show stopping transvestite, Frank’n’Furter, who turns a treat with the audience lapping up his every word and move. McLachlan renders a more cheeky and ribald ‘Frank’ in Act One, delivery just enough menace in Act Two, when the cards turn and things don’t go his way.

Rocky Horror needs to be loud and the band under Dave Skelton certainly delivers with a bold and brassy sound. This tight outfit never misses a beat, keeping the pace rollicking on, while respecting the more quieter moments such as Frank’s swansong Going Home and Brad’s reflective Once in Awhile (a song that never made it into the movie).

For many, the Rocky Horror Show will be a trip down memory lane – so have a few drinks, enjoy the party, and give yourself over to absolute pleasure with Frank and his kooky cast of characters – you won’t be disappointed!

The Rocky Horror Show
Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Performance: Sunday 14 June 2015 – 5.30pm
Season continues to 11 July  2015

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Craig McLachlan and Cast in The Rocky Horror Show – photo by Brian Geach

Review: Rohan Shearn