This is the 40th anniversary of the show which has toured worldwide since its inception by author Richard O’Brien. On the opening night of the Wolverhampton run it was not difficult to see why it has enjoyed such longevity. Brash, naughty, and fun, it combines a great rock n roll soundtrack, bright, larger than life characters, plenty of exotic costumes on stage and in the auditorium, and panto style audience involvement.
The plot is simple enough, an homage to tacky science fiction and B movies played as a rock n roll musical . On the way to visit an old college professor, two clean cut kids, Brad Majors and his fiancée Janet Weiss, run into tyre trouble and seek help at the site of a light down the road. It’s coming from the Frankenstein place, where Dr Frank’n’furter is in the midst of one of his maniacal experiments…
What impresses is the energy and verve of the cast and the quality of singing and performance. Jayde Westaby as the usherette ( and later Magenta), sets a formidable standard with the opening “Science Fiction/Double Feature” which never lets up till the house lights turn on. Philip Franks is outstanding as the Narrator, dealing imperiously with the ritual audience ad libs coming his way. Frank n Furter is played with an arrogant, knowing insouciance by Oliver Thornton, corrupting, camping it up, but most importantly clearly having a very good time. The winners of television talent shows can suffer artistic snobbery from those jealous of their short-cut to fame, yet Ben Forster, who secured his break as Jesus in the Arena production of Jesus Christ Superstar ,delivered the part of nerdy Brad with understated assuredness, and a fine vocal performance.
The set, by Hugh Durrant, was simple, effective and kitsch , the music, played from an elevated gallery, rather than the orchestra pit, was razor sharp under the direction of Tony Castro, and the choreography by Nathan Wright was snappy , tight, and louche.
Any show needs an audience and the Rocky Horror crowd are a devoted lot. The talk in the bar was not only of how many previous shows individuals had seen, but how many performances on this tour alone had been attended. Dressing up is de rigueur, each number is enthusiastically applauded and the cognoscenti vie to offer their own ad libs using their encyclopaedic knowledge of the script. A well deserved standing ovation closed the show as did a mass dance and sing a long of “The Time Warp”. It reflected the warmth of a marvellous, entertaining show and a cast who had given it their all.
The entire cast deliver on entertainment, acting and singing in a fine show which shows every sign of having many years more life in it. It is a party to which all are invited, and all are invited to let themselves go, just for one night. If you haven’t seen this production book a ticket now, if you have, go again! The Rocky Horror Show runs from Monday 28th October to Saturday 2nd November .