Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show – Review – Sheffield Lyceum

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Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show – Review

Sheffield Lyceum, February 2019

by Kirsty Reid

It is astounding that Richard O’Brien’s musical has been enticing crowds with its saucy shenanigans for 45 years and is still going strong. This year, the show’s back for another worldwide tour and I was thrilled to catch a performance at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre recently.

Since its first appearance at the Royal Court Theatre back in June 1973, theatregoers have lusted after the show’s camp combination of glorious hits and cheeky comedy. Performed in 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 drag show that blends sci-fi parody and rock’n’roll. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s not supposed to. Despite the enormous cultural impact the play, and subsequent film, has had due to its exploration of sexuality and gender identity, the show radiates fun with O’Brien himself describing it as an “alternative pantomime”.

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“Confidence and mischief”

The story follows squeaky-clean sweethearts Brad and Janet – played here by Ben Adams and Joanne Clifton – 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.

Any actor taking on the role of the scandalous Frank N Furter has big shoes to fill, but Stephen Webb’s portrayal was a hit with the audience. Making a grand entrance in a corset and stilettos, Webb brought just the right amount of confidence and mischief to the role.

Adams and Clifton, who recently co-starred in Flashdance, have a great on-stage relationship and are incredibly convincing in their portrayal of naive lovebirds Brad and Janet.

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“Vocal talent”

A fan of Adams’ band, a1, I knew his vocals wouldn’t disappoint, but Clifton’s vocal talent came as a welcomed surprise. From sweet and sultry to raw and powerful, Clifton was by far the star of the show for me.

Rippling Rocky, the Frankenstein creation of Frank N Furter, was played by skilled gymnast Callum Evans whose amazing acrobatics and muscular physique were a sight to behold. Not just a pretty face, Evans displayed strong vocal talent in his rendition of ‘The Sword of Damocles’.

Having seen several Rocky Horror shows over the years I knew exactly what to expect and dressed accordingly. Disappointingly though, only a minority of the crowd sported Rocky-themed attire. Audience participation was welcomed with witty theatregoers enjoying some fantastic banter with narrator Philip Franks.

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“Up on their feet”

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the smash-hit features all of the famous numbers which have made it a success, from ‘Sweet Transvestite’ and ‘Dammit Janet’ to the classic floorfiller, ‘Time Warp’.

As the sound of the pelvic-thrusting ‘Time Warp’ filled the room, my mum and I jumped at the chance to show off our moves. Others were a little apprehensive to follow suit, but by the end of the track most of the crowd were up on their feet following the lyrical instructions and getting well and truly into spirit.

The musical direction was fantastic and very much deserving of the standing ovation it received.

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