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Review: The Rocky Horror Show, New Theatre Cardiff

The Rocky Horror Show. Credit: David Freeman

I cannot think of a better way to open the doors of the New Theatre Cardiff once more and welcome in the audience, than with the world tour of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show.

Rocky Horror is a show that has become legendary for blurring the boundaries of a regular performance with the consistent audience interaction. It wouldn’t be the same without a sea of glitter and suspenders in the audience as fans dress up for the occasion.

To those seeing the show for the first time (often referred to as ‘virgins’), the pre-planned shenanigans and insults can be quite overwhelming and at times highly controversial, but there are scripts available online if you wanted to feel better prepared.

The show was very aptly brought to life amidst a terrific lightning storm, set in London on 19th June 1973, a rather apprehensive Richard O’Brien waiting in the wings for the first sign that the show would not be disapproved of. Nearly forty-nine years later, it has toured the world in more than thirty countries and has been translated into more than twenty different languages. It’s fair to say that Rocky is one of the biggest cult musicals to date.

The Narrator Philip Franks (The Darling Buds of May) would like…to take you on a strange journey. How strange was it? “As strange as watching Boris Johnson cling to power” he says. We also meet Brad Majors played by actor, presenter and winner of Strictly Come Dancing Ore Oduba, and Janet Weiss played by Haley Flaherty (Mamma Mia / Chicago). It all begins in their car, on the way back from Betty and Ralph’s wedding, where Brad confesses his love and proposes to Janet.

The Rocky Horror Show. Credit: David Freeman

After Janet accepts, they head back to where it all started to visit their friend Doctor Scott played by Joe Allen (Little Shop of Horrors / Charlie & The Chocolate Factory), who also doubles up as Eddie. Disaster strikes when the front tyre pops and they have no spare. Luckily, ‘Frankenstein’s place’ isn’t too far away. The innocent young couple get swept into a fast-paced astounding story of a ‘sweet transvestite’ and ‘Time Warp’ across the stage.

Frank ‘n’ Furter is played by the amazingly talented  Stephen Webb (Jersey Boys / Legally Blonde), along with Kristian Lavercombe (Jersey Boys / Jesus Christ Superstar) once again taking on the role as Riff Raff in a very Richard O’Brien style.

The Rocky Horror Show. Credit: David Freeman

Suzie Mcadam (My Fair Lady/ Rocky Horror European Tour) opens the show to cheers as Usherette and then goes on to dazzle as Magenta before making a brief reprise as Usherette.  Lauren Ingram (Beauty and the Beast / My Fair Lady) captivates the audience as the glittery and energised Columbia. Callum Evans (Grease / Miss Saigon) takes on the role of Rocky, and the cast is joined by the talented ensemble/ Phantoms Reece Budin, Darcy Finden, Jordan Fox and Rachel Grundy with Stefania Du Toit as Swing/ dance captain and Danny Knott as male Swing.

The accompanying band is directed by Greg Arrowsmith, and of course you cannot forget to mention the backstage talent that goes into making the set and costume designs before the opening.

Such a show may not be for everyone, as to many there is no linear storyline or definitive ending, in addition to the highly controversial question of consent. However, for most it’s simply a show they can relate to and have some fun with. With hot topics such as transgender, cross-dressing and bisexuality, Rocky Horror is guaranteed to get the audience engaged. Opening night had the audience on their feet and left people wanting more.

The Rocky Horror Show is on at the New Theatre, Cardiff until Saturday 12th February 2022. Tickets start from £25 and are available by calling the box office on 0343 310 0041 or online – www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk.