Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Rocky Horror Show, April 26, 2014 ****

Music, lyrics & book by Richard O’Brien
Produced by Ambassador Theatre Group and Gordon Frost Organisation
Comedy Theatre from April 26 to July 13, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
A version of this review was also be in print in Herald Sun on Sunday 27 April and online on Sat April 26 at 10pm. KH
 Christie Whelan Browne, Tim Maddren, Craig McLachlan (photo Jeff Busby) 

Craig McLachlan is “just a sweet transvestite” and he’s strutting his demented stuff on stage at the Comedy Theatre to the wicked delight of The Rocky Horror Show opening night crowd.

The audience glitterati included movie megastar, Pierce Brosnan, who is in town with his new film, The Moon and The Sun.

An audacious McLachlan, garbed in corset, fishnets and stilettos, reprises the role of Dr. Frank N Furter, the twisted “tranny” whose gothic mansion and perverted pastimes created a sensation in London in 1973 then in Australia in 1974.

McLachlan is deliciously, flamboyantly camp as Frank, playing an unforgettable, swaggering, muscular, drag queen with oddly seductive sexual peccadilloes.

He teases the audience with his outrageous, mock depravity, risqué sexual innuendo and comic ad libbing as he leads a daring cast of Frank’s dissolute pals through a series of decadent parties and wanton excesses.

When he created the show in the 1970s, Richard O’Brien, the sole writer of the music, lyrics and book, tossed a trashy drag show into a particle collider with classic 1950s, B Grade sci-fi and horror movies to produce this idiosyncratic and trangressive rock musical.

Christie Whelan Browne embodies the sweetly innocent Janet then fearlessly takes her character on a rollercoaster ride into debauchery, while Tim Maddren as Janet’s clean-cut, naive fiancé, Brad, tumbles headlong under the corrupting influence of Frank N Furter.

Erika Heynatz is a luscious and lusty Magenta, Frank’s hedonistic housekeeper, Ashlea Pyke is perky as shrill, colourful groupie, Columbia, Brendan Irving is suitably buff and dim-witted as Frank’s gorgeous creation, Rocky, and Tony Farrell is a dignified Narrator.

As the loyal, totally depraved, alien servant, Riff Raff, Kristian Lavercombe grabs the spotlight as he leads the talented and assured cast into Time Warp, the timeless, pelvic-thrusting, chart-topping dance tune.

This exceptional ensemble is a well-oiled machine and the accomplished voices of the entire cast are balanced and harmonious in every song.

The big hits, Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite, accompany other memorable songs, including the sultry 50s-style Science Fiction/Double Feature, the anthemic Over At The Frankenstein Place, the cheeky Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me, and Damn It, Janet.

The tight rock band, under musical director, Dave Skelton, plays O’Brien’s music with bold, rock fervour, Christopher Luscombe’s direction is deft and witty, and the choreography by Nathan M Wright is sassy, sensual and comical.

McLachlan and cast are just as dynamic after interval although O’Brien’s script feels uneven and overly long in the second half, some dialogue and scenes could be tightened and even a couple of songs excised – although such sacrilege might send die-hard fans of this cult classic ballistic.

The hilariously bold and mischievous humour of Act One occasionally tilts a little too far into vulgarity and tackiness in the second half, but the balance is redressed with some wonderful, broad clown business from McLachlan, Whelan Browne and Maddren.

McLachlan shifts dramatic gears impeccably when he sings the poignant Going Home, but he and the cast bump it up to overdrive when they reprise Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite in a raunchy finale that brings the audience to its feet.

Don’t miss this 40th anniversary season of The Rocky Horror Show before it dematerialises back to Transylvania in July.

By Kate Herbert

Creative Team
Director - Christopher Luscombe
Choreographer - Nathan M Wright
Set Design – Hugh Durrant
Costume Design – Sue Blane

Craig McLachlan as Frank N Furter
Christie Whelan Browne as Janet
Tim Maddren as Brad
Ashlea Pyke as Columbia
Erika Heynatz as Magenta and Usherette
Nicholas Christo as Eddie\Dr. Scott
Brendan Irving as Rocky
Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff
Tony Farrell Narrator
The Phantoms: Vincent Hooper, Luigi Lucente, Meghan O'Shea, Angela Scundi, James Maxfield.

Dave Skelton - Musical Director
Mark Charters - Drums
Glenn Moorhouse - Guitar
Brett Canning - Bass
Carlo Barbaro - Saxophone
Science Fiction/Double Feature - Usherette
Damn It, Janet - Brad and Janet
Over at the Frankenstein Place - Brad, Janet, Riff Raff, Company
Sweet Transvestite - Frank, Company
Time Warp - Magenta, Columbia, Riff-Raff, Narrator, Company
The Sword of Damocles - Rocky, Company
I Can Make You A Man (Charles Atlas Song) - Frank, Company
Hot Patootie (What Ever Happened to Saturday Night) - Eddie,  Company
I Can Make You A Man (Reprise) - Frank
Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me - Janet
Eddie's Teddy - Dr. Scott, Company
Once in A While - Brad
Planet Schmanet  - Frank
Floor Show - Columbia, Rocky, Brad, Janet, Frank, Company
Going Home - Frank, Company
Superheroes - Brad, Janet, Narrator
Reprise; Science Fiction
Reprise: Time Warp
Reprise: Sweet Transvestite
Reprise: Time Warp

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