Review - Rocky Horror Show 2018: the usual rapturous welcome
Above: Timewarp time and below right: Janet (Michelle Smitheram) and Frank-N-Furter (Adam Rennie)
Rocky Horror Show 2018
By Richard O’Brien
Directed by Christopher Luscombe
Musical Director Dave Skelton
Choreography by Nathan M Wright
Produced by Howard Panter, John Frost and GWB Entertainment
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Season: January 17-February 11. Bookings: qpac.com.au or 136 246. Running time: two hours including interval.
After all the trouble and turmoil Dr. Frank-N-Furter arrived with the usual rapturous welcome in Brisbane. Adam Rennie wore the pearls and fishnets and wore them well. He deserved the acclaim he was given after the hectic finale. He had been thrust into the role at a moment’s notice and yet it looked as though he had been playing the role from the start as he continued the happy-go-lucky ghoul with a penchant for fun tradition, but also revealed the darker side; the temper tantrums and a violent streak.
I saw the 2014 version of the play and described it as “more of a rock concert than a play.” This time though, after the all-too-familiar short opening act with the dramatic entrance of Frank and the two top songs – The Timewarp and Sweet Transvestite - we saw a lot more emphasis on plot and character.
Mind you, this is not to say that the choreography, the band and the singing of the whole cast was not terrific, it was. I loved every dance segment and was surprised at the sweet harmony created at times.
The plot is a compendium of the Hammer horror and sci-fi movies of the 1950s that were so popular at the drive-in movies. Frank, like Mary Shelley’s Dr Frankenstein, has created life in his laboratory, but this time it’s not some badly sewn together body parts but a fully fit looking muscle man he calls Rocky played once again by circus and stage star Brendan Irving. Brad and Janet, newly engaged, blow a tyre and seek help from the monster’s mysterious mansion and then everything goes pear-shaped for the unfortunate duo.
The cast was strong, with an exceptional Brad played by Rob Mallet, who had one of the best voices on stage. He played the nerd perfectly and yet gave him a bit of backbones in the end.
He was a lot of fun – and Janet was a delight as played by Michelle Smitheram.
Kristian Lavercombe was another ring-in from the 2014 production and he showed he had forgotten nothing as he played the frenetic hunchbacked Riff Raff and James Bryers was great as Frank’s rock singing experiment gone wrong, Eddie.
It was only once scene but he rocked beautifully with the Sweet Patootie number.
I also thoroughly enjoyed Cameron Daddo’s appearances. He was most suave Narrator since the days of Stuart Wagstaff. It was nice work- and he dealt with some loud hecklers very efficiently.
Frank’s laboratory assistants, Magenta played by Amanda Harrison and Columbia (Nadia Komazec) were as sexy as they come.
I was wondering how the cast would cope with the bed scene, the one that allegedly got Craig McLachlan into strife. It is a full-on simulated sex scene edged with humour. It was on opening night too but with a brilliant comedy performance from Adam Rennie it was a whole heap funnier. It was ruder, cruder and brought gasps, squeals, and screams of shock and laughter from the audience but thanks to Rennie, Smitheram and Mallett It was outrageously funny.
As before there were sound problems with lyrics being drowned the band – the words to Rocky’s Sword of Damocles were lost completely, I did not hear one word.
But little things like that did not bother the main bunch of fans, they cheered, stamped and bounced along and they were on their feet arms waving and bodies swaying and dancing to the Timewarp finale.
A great night was had my most.