How is it that my first time seeing The Rocky Horror Show was its 25th anniversary, and seven more viewings later (on my part) Richard O’Brien’s genre-defying musical is celebrating 50 years? It certainly hasn’t lost its appeal: Cardiff’s New Theatre is packed out with Transylvanians (and fans in regular clothes) on a chilly opening evening. If this is the audience on a Monday night, the weekend crowd is going to take the roof off.
If you don’t know the story – in which case you’re in for a wild ride – it concerns Brad and Janet, the all-American couple who have to make a detour at a creepy castle when they get “caught with a flat”. There, they meet Frank N Furter and their world as they know is changed forever.
Most of the cast have been in this show for a while. Kristian Lavercome has played Riff Raff in so many performances, Richard O’Brien should probably leave the rights to him in his will. Stephen Webb makes for a somewhat masc-rough but queerly sexy Frank: opting for an American accent rather than upper-class English like previous Franks, Webb is reminiscent of a T-Bird from Grease gone on a very different path. Richard Meek, meanwhile, is such a handsome Brad you kind of want to see him have a go at playing Frank, and Suzie McAdam is a fan favourite – opening and closing the show as the Usherette, and being unrecognisably the same actor who plays Magenta. The whole cast is clearly having a blast in this show.
Jackie Clune is the first female Narrator this reviewer has seen, and she was superb. Instantly getting the audience onside with a few Welsh phrases, her background in comedy allows for hilarious, sometimes satirical interplay during the audience interactions. The band, led by Charlie Ingles, adds blistering orchestration to the proceedings, cementing the show’s title as a rock’n’roll party musical, and Hugh Durrant’s set nods effectively to the show’s cinematic references, 50s sci-fi and big house horror. Granted, that set is exactly the same as it’s been for the last 10 years.
The only other fly in the ointment is that 50 years on, the iconic Sweet Transvestite, pansexual pin-up, is still mainly played by straight, cis male actors: one could hope they’d do something special for their golden year. That said it takes nothing away from how enduringly fun going to see The Rocky Horror Show is. There’s nothing else like it, and that’s why it’s still filling theatres after half a century.
The Rocky Horror Show, New Theatre, Cardiff, Mon 10 Apr
On until Sat 15 Apr. Tickets: £32.50-£52. Info: here
words CHRIS WILLIAMS
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