Tuesday, June 25

The Rocky Horror Show – Blackpool Winter Gardens

The theatre is packed full of eager visitors in corsets and gold hats, ready for the madness to ensue. The Rocky Horror Show has its fanbase hooked, and now, I finally understand why.

The cult-classic hit takes hints of sci-fi, gothic horror and rock n’ roll to create an utterly fantastical show. With such a reputation, the stage production has a lot to live up to.

An all-American couple stumble upon a castle inhabited by a multitude of weird and wild characters. Their innocence is lost as they succumb to the allure of the sensual scientist, Frank N Furter, and the characters sing and dance their way through a naughty, frivolous romp.

In this production, the high heels of Frank N Furter are filled by Stephen Webb (Jersey Boys), who struts onto the stage with sass and a smirk. Webb brings the house down with his “Sweet Transvestite”, exuding charisma and sex-appeal. His husky voice and aside jokes add to his charm, and whilst it never feels like Webb is mimicking the iconic screen portrayal, a tasteful flavour of Tim Curry is there.

With a highly animated comic style, Brad and Janet bring about many moments of hilarity. Hayley Flaherty (Matilda) convincingly turns a sweet, naïve Janet into a seductress. From the first moment her voice is goosebump inducing, and her rendition of “Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch-Me” is a highlight. Her adorable partner Brad, played by Ore Oduba (Strictly Come Dancing), also has a similar transformation. From a suit to a corset, we see Brad release his insecurities and Oduba delivers with the added bonus of a lovely vocal tone.

Speaking of voices, the vocals are some of the best that I have ever heard in a stage show. Not one performer sings a weak note and the ensemble sound in unison is overwhelming! Impressive notes and trills are sung here, there, and everywhere. A special shout out to Riff Raff, who sings a shrilling note with such ease that the audience cheered him a few words into his first song.

The stage truly comes alive in the group numbers, such as “Time Warp”, where the boundless energy of the performers has people dancing along in the aisles. Every ensemble member performs with such intensity that you can’t help being swept away with it all, whatever “it” may be.

Audience interactions are welcomed in this show, and the cast were not deterred by this cheeky, Blackpool crowd. Philip Franks (Witness for the Prosecution), as the Narrator, addresses the shouts and adds his own witty remarks with a velvety voice and a knowing grin.

Creepy doorman, Riff Raff, and his enticing sister, Magenta, are both played exceptionally. Kristian Lavercombe (Jesus Christ Superstar) and Suzie McAdam (Kinky Boots) perform with vivacity and rocking voices. Lauren Ingram (Magic Goes Wrong) is thoroughly captivating as the tap-dancing ball of fun, Columbia, whilst Joe Allen and Ben Westhead (as Eddie and Rocky respectively) are cast perfectly.

The lighting, costumes and set design all pay homage to the flamboyance of the film and bring a little more sparkle for the stage. An audience who know what they want, get everything they wish for from the choreography of Nathan M. Wright and direction of Christopher Luscombe.

Seeing as I’d only seen the film once, I can’t say on entering the theatre that I was a  huge fan of the show. But on leaving it, I can. The live production is on a whole other level, and with the audience being so integral, the energy is wild. Costumes and participation may be optional, but having a good time is not.

The Rocky Horror Show continues at Blackpool Winter Gardens until Saturday 11th December https://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/whats-on/the-rocky-horror-show

Reviewer: Coral Mourant

Reviewed: 6th December 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★