Rocky Horror Show – Review – Hull New Theatre

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By Kirsty Reid, November 2021

Crowds of people congregating outside a theatre in fishnet stockings, feather boas and corsets can only mean one thing – the Rocky Horror Show is in town.

Almost 50 years since it first sprang to life, Richard O’Brien’s musical is still enticing crowds with its saucy shenanigans.

Since its first appearance at the Royal Court Theatre in 1973, theatregoers have lusted after the show’s camp combination of glorious hits and cheeky comedy. Having romped its way across more than 30 countries worldwide, O’Brien’s musical has been translated into more than 20 languages – proving just how popular it really is.

Rocky virgins might be baffled by the cult classic – a camp twist on sci-fi B-movies. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s not supposed to.

The story follows squeaky-clean sweethearts Brad and Janet – played here by Ore Oduba and Haley Flaherty – who, after a twist of fate, get a flat tyre in the middle of a storm and seek shelter in a nearby mansion.

The master of the castle – a fishnet-wearing transvestite scientist named Frank N Furter – introduces the couple to his raunchy world of sexuality and indulgence.

With last year’s tour postponed due to Covid, the show is back with a bang and I was ready to embrace the fun and frivolity.

rocky horror review hull new

“Perfect blend”

Armed with our feather boas, my mum and I join the sea of diehard fans wearing corsets, suspenders and white lab coats for the show’s opening night at Hull New Theatre.

Taking our seats, we wait with anticipation for the curtain to open. And it’s not long before the Usherette (Suzie McAdam) takes to the stage to sing ‘Science Fiction/Double Feature’ – a number that soon gets the audience in the mood for what’s to come.

The Narrator, played by Philip Franks (The Darling Buds of May, Heartbeat), is simply brilliant. Teasing the crowd, Franks pauses at just the right moments before pouncing on those brave (or stupid) enough to engage with him. He takes it all in his stride as daring theatregoers heckle him with things way too rude to print here!

With Franks having nicely warmed up the crowd, the atmosphere is buzzing by the time Stephen Webb’s Frank N Furter makes his grand entrance in a corset and stilettos. Claiming the stage with spectacular vocals and a sultry dance, he belts out ‘Sweet Transvestite’ with conviction. Any actor taking on the character of the outrageous Frank N Furter has big shoes to fill, but Webb excels in the role, bringing the perfect blend of confidence and mischief.

For me, Franks and Webb are the stand-out performances of the evening, but they are supported by a stellar cast.

rocky horror review hull new 2021

“An experience”

Oduba (Strictly Come Dancing) and Flaherty are incredibly convincing in their portrayal of naïve lovebirds Brad and Janet, while Lauren Ingram brings a great comical energy to the role of Columbia. And Suzie McAdam shows she a woman of many talents – taking on the role of eccentric maid Magenta as well as the Usherette.

With more than 1,800 Rocky performances under his belt, I expected big things from Kristian Lavercombe and he did not disappoint. His portrayal of Frank N Furter’s creepy hunchback handyman, Riff Raff, is effortless.

Rippling Rocky, the Frankenstein creation of Frank N Furter, is played by Ben Westhead whose vocals (and pecks) are on top form.

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the smash-hit features all of the famous numbers which have made it a success, from ‘Dammit Janet’ to the classic floorfiller, ‘Time Warp’. All brought to life by an incredibly talented group of musicians.

The scenery is brilliant, too. With seamless transitions, Hugh Durrant’s designs capture each scene’s mood perfectly – from the dark, rainswept country road to the grand, yet creepy interior of Frank N Furter’s castle.

As the show draws to a close and the sound of the pelvic-thrusting ‘Time Warp’ fills the air for a second time, me and Mum follow the crowd and jump to our feet ready to bust out those ever-so captivating moves. For me, the audience participation is what I enjoy most about the Rocky Horror Show – it’s so more than just a show, it’s an experience. One you’ll never forget.

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