If Hanley’s Piccadilly is thronged with men in basques and stockings and women in lab coats and French maid’s outfits then it can probably mean just one thing – Rocky Horror is in town. That is definitely the case as the outrageous but also hilarious and hugely entertaining show returns to the Regent.
Since its humble beginning back in 1973 this product of Richard O’ Brien’s highly talented brain has become a cult piece of musical theatre that has entertained theatre-goers around the world and is one of the few stage shows that thrives on the participation of the audience members.
For a Rocky virgin this can at first be daunting as the more seasoned attenders interrupt the actors with their heckles and bring out strings of lights during Over at the Frankenstein Place. The best advice to a newbie is to abandon your inhibitions and ride the wave to its joyous end.
For the few who may not know the story, Rocky Horror is all about a naïve and squeaky-clean pair of lovers – Brad and Janet – who are travelling home from a wedding when their car develops a flat tyre. Unfortunately for them the only sign of habitation is a spooky place owned by transvestite Frank N Furter who has created Rocky – a well-built young man.
Brad and Janet are soon made to taste the forbidden fruit – the extremely funny and well-staged seduction scene is well worth the admission price on its own- and Brad and Janet’s lives will never be the same again.
Laura Harrison gets the production off to a great start as the Usherette – she also plays the part of Magenta – who sings Science Fiction/Double Feature in a seductive come-hither style and a great voice.
Former member of boy band Blue Duncan James is cast as the mad scientist Frank and seems born for the part. He puts his excellent singing voice to good use with some powerful performances and he also performed with just the right amount of camp horror and seduction with accomplished comic timing.
Brad (James Darch) and Janet (Joanne Clifton) played their parts with the appropriate level of open-mouthed naivete with Darch showcasing a good singing voice in his solo Once in a While. And for those who thought of Clifton as just a talented dancer (a regular on Strictly which she won in 2016) were forced to think again as she attacked her part with gusto and a singing voice that suggests that she has a bright future in musical theatre.
Kristian Lavercombe used all the experience gained over more than 1400 appearances as Riff Raff to produce a lawless performance while Callum Evans brought his international acrobatic gymnastic credentials to an energetic portrayal of Rocky.
Miracle Chance (Columbia) and Ross Chisari (Eddie/Dr Scott) added to the experience as they played their roles with relish and they were all supported by some excellent choreography from the Phantoms and a rocking soundtrack.
But special mention must be made of Steve Punt who as Narrator keeps the show moving but bears the brunt of the hecklers in the audience. The talented comedian was perfectly cast with his deadpan delivery and classy put-downs.
Rocky Horror is one of those plays that everyone should see at least once for the buzz and excitement but is this production the one you should catch? Well I will leave that verdict to two young ladies who sat next to me. Veterans of five previous productions, in their experience they ranked this show as highly as any and reckoned that Duncan James was good enough to challenge the legendary Tim Curry. The rapturous standing ovation at the finale backed up their view.
The show lasts for approximately two hours including interval and completes its run on Saturday June 8th Tickets are available from atgtickets.com/stoke or 0844 871 7664.