Monday, April 22

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show – Grand Theatre, Blackpool

Delivering Friday feels on a Monday night, the legendary rock n roll musical full of frisky frolics and plenty of laughs smacks onto the shores of Blackpool like a pelvic thrust.

Before curtain up the audience was buzzing with excitement which was truly infectious. Being familiar with the original 1975 movie, I wondered how the stage version would compare, and this did not disappoint.

Newly engaged, sweet couple Brad and Janet are perfectly played with heart by Richard Meek and Hayley Flaherty. They are the ‘Barbie and Ken’ of Denton on their way to visit their friend and mentor Dr Scott (Superbly played by Joe Allen who also doubles up as ‘Eddie’) when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere during a miserable storm. Through this treacherous weather, they see “a light over at Frankenstein’s place” where they unexpectedly stumble onto the Annual Transylvanian Convention, a world of anarchic, saucy frolics and debauchery which unbeknown to them will unleash their deep unawakened sexual desires… And we’re all there for the ride.  

Almost 50 years since its theatrical debut at London’s Royal Court Theatre, Rocky Horror still packs a punch not just as a musical, but as an event in itself.  Described as a cultural phenomenon, the audience has become an integral part of this show’s appeal with their perfectly timed interjections and hilarious double entendres. Philip Franks exquisite portrayal of the Narrator without fail, delivers some brilliant quick-fire retorts with some added satire and local references.

Hugh Durrant’s set design captures the essence of Rocky Horror’s homage to science fiction B-movies with wonderfully designed sets that allow for seamless scene changes, making way for the entrances of all its principal characters, whilst all framed by a reel of film. Complimenting this is Nick Riching’s lighting design which includes the use of colourful strobes and misplaced spotlights (whether accidental or not) adding to the chaotic, anarchic pace of dancing and cavorting on stage.   

For me, what gives Rocky Horror its cult classic status is the characters O’Brien created before their time, displaying freedom in sexual expression and individuality. The creepiness of Riff Raff (Kristian Lavercombe), the kookiness and sparkle of Columbia (Darcy Finden), the sultriness of Magenta (Suzie McAdam), the likeable innocence of Rocky (Ben Westhead) and the tantalising, delectable Frank N Furter (Stephen Webb) are all performed with an unmatchable, watchable energy.  Every single actor on the stage oozes charisma and deliver their parts with unwavering energy and precision. Also deserving a huge mention is the punch and energy from the Phantoms (Reece Budin, Fionan O’Carroll, Jessica Sole, Stefania Du Toit) and Swing (Tyla Dee Nurden, Nathan Shaw). My eyes were like marbles on a washing machine! Nathan M Wright’s choreography did nothing but compliment the flow of the story and finish off each scene under the superb direction of Christopher Luscombe.   

The run time of 2 hours 20 minutes (including interval) is set at a perfect pace, and by the time Frank N Furter belts out “I’m coming home” (my favourite number performed beautifully by Webb) you feel extremely satisfied and entertained. Fantastic production!

You can catch Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show on at The Grand Theatre, Blackpool until Saturday 18th February 2023.  Tickets available from https://www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk

Reviewer: Gill Lewis 

Reviewed: 13th February 2023

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

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