Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show
Step into the Iconic Madness and the wonderland of pleasure that is ‘Rocky Horror Show’
Reviewed by Brendan Daynes
In a whirlwind of sequins, laughter, and unapologetic rebellion, Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show hosted its Opening Night at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne on Wednesday, May 24th, 2023. This production is a remarkable testament to the audacity and exuberance of the show, as it magnificently celebrates the momentous 50th anniversary with unparalleled flair and passion. Under the expert direction of Christopher Luscombe, accompanied by a stellar cast and creative team, this production masterfully honoured the show’s illustrious legacy, infusing it with an invigorating burst of vitality.
Enthralled by the show’s seductive charms, the audience willingly surrendered to the deliciously wicked and entertaining tale, where innocence collided with temptation. With a seamless fusion of humour, campiness, and alluring seduction, the dramatic saga of the young and innocent couple, Brad and Janet, who stumble upon the seductive realm of the enigmatic Dr. Frank-N-Furter unfolded. The production’s brilliance lies in its ability to seamlessly infuse contemporary nuances, breathing renewed vitality into this timeless tale. The harmonious blend of the classic and the modern creates an immersive experience that resonates with a timely and relevant impact.
The cast was nothing short of exceptional, each performer bringing their own flair and charisma to their well known and loved characters. Jason Donovan‘s portrayal of the iconic Dr. Frank-N-Furter was a revelation, with a magnetic presence and powerful vocals that exude both seductive charm and commanding authority. Myf Warhurst, taking on the role of the Narrator, brought a delightful charm and wit to the stage, with a delivery that was sharp and filled with comedic timing, eliciting roars of laughter from the audience. The chemistry between Ethan Jones as Brad and Deirdre Khoo as Janet was undeniable, as they embarked on a journey of sexual awakening and self-discovery. Both actors skilfully portrayed the characters’ transformation, navigating the delicate balance between innocence and liberation with nuance and conviction. Stellar Perry is captivating, effortlessly embodying the dual roles of Magenta and The Usherette. With an intoxicating mix of seductive allure and mischievous charm, she breathes life into both characters, showcasing her versatility. With every nimble step Darcey Eagle shines as Columbia, electrifying the stage and captivating the audience with her vibrant presence. Ellis Dolan’s dual role as Eddie and Dr. Scott was a delightful surprise, effortlessly embodying both characters’ unique quirks and mannerisms and showcasing his remarkable versatility. Loredo Malcolm mesmerised the audience with an embodiment of Rocky that exuded both physical prowess and irresistible allure. Henry Rollo is a standout as Riff Raff, enthralling the audience with every nuanced gesture and haunting gaze. His commanding presence and remarkable talent elevate the entire performance, making his portrayal of Riff Raff a truly unforgettable highlight of the show.
The creative team behind this production showcased a remarkable blend of artistic vision while remaining true to the original. Hugh Durrant’s simple yet imaginative set design captured the eerie atmosphere of the mansion perfectly. Sue Blane’s iconic costume design paid homage to the original while adding fresh and contemporary elements, enhancing the visual spectacle of the show. The lighting design by Nick Richings effectively created mood and atmosphere, elevating the impact of key moments throughout the performance. The choreography by Nathan M Wright was dynamic and vibrant, blending classic moves with modern flair that perfectly complemented the energetic musical numbers. The ensemble of phantoms, played by Josh Gates, Catty Hamilton, Jackson Reedman, and Erica Wild, executed the choreography with precision and synchronicity, adding a fresh perspective on this musical theatre classic.
Throughout the performance it became evident that this production resonates with the audiences on a deeper level. The energy in the theatre was electrifying, as fans of all ages enthusiastically engaged with the interactive elements, shouting callbacks, and joining in the iconic “Time Warp” dance. It was a testament to the enduring appeal of “Rocky Horror,” and the passion it ignites in its fans.
Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show 50th Anniversary Production is a triumphant tribute to the legacy of the show. It fearlessly embraces the themes that have made it a cultural phenomenon for five decades while injecting it with contemporary relevance. This production is a must-see for long time fans of the show or anyone seeking a thrilling, boundary-pushing, and unapologetically liberating theatrical experience.
Rocky Horror Show is currently playing at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne and will continue to captivate audiences in Perth, Gold Coast, and Canberra from August 2023. For those seeking a wild and unforgettable theatrical experience, this production is not to be missed. To purchase tickets or learn more about the show, please visit https://rockyhorror.com.au/.
You can also read the interview with choreographer Nathan Wright here: https://www.dancelife.com.au/interview-with-nathan-m-wright/