Touring – reviewed at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley
I love Rocky Horror. Yes, it is a bit camp, yes it may not have aged that well, but it is a good night out with catchy songs, audience participation and one of the finest characters to grace the earth Frank‘N’Furter.
Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is on a world tour and it has stopped in Bromley. For those that saw the Playhouse Theatre run in 2015 with O’Brien as the narrator and David Bedella as Frank, this is a very similar
production, but even if you find yourself fatigued with Rocky Horror (not possible) then this touring show has some real highlights.
Philip Franks steals the show as the narrator. He has performed this role on and off for over a decade and it shows. He is ready for the audience shouting at him, he is ready to throw in a few Brexit references, and his suggestion that we all come back and shout at Anne Widdecombe on her tour went down well. The narrator is such a key part of the live show and Franks is more than prepared.
Stephen Webb as Frank is an interesting choice. He looks the part, with his strong chest in a corset and cracking gams in fishnets, but his deep New Jersey accent brings more complexity to the part. Tim Curry sounded
like the Queen. Webb sounds like Danny De Vito. It brings open masculinity to the role and his arrival is electrifying. The live band, led by musical director George Carter, is a really nice touch and a reminder that whilst the film is a great experience it doesn’t compare to a live production.
It is well cast; Joanne Clifton and Ben Adams (who recently were in the tour of Flashdance) show themselves to be real musical theatre stars as Janet and Brad. I will be surprised not to see either in the West End soon. Clifton has shown a real talent for musical theatre and she is a confident and engaging lead. Kristian Lavercombe as RiffRaff embodies O’Brien’s performance without it being a mimicry.
Whilst I enjoyed Miracle Chance and Laura Harrison as Columbia and Magenta, they both seemed too slick and stagey at times. Whilst RHS is over the top I don’t think Columbia’s high energy always worked. Harrison shined as the usherette and seemed to have a clearer understanding of this role than as Magenta. Ross Chisari as Eddie/Dr Scott was an interesting choice because he worked as Dr Scott and less so as Eddie, which is a tough role made famous by Meat Loaf.
It is a fun night, the almost full houses on a Monday evening suggest there is a lot of love for this from all ages and after a break of a few years I am glad I got the chance to see this fun and iconic production.
Rocky Horror Show is touring until October 2019
It continues at Churchill Theatre until 20 April