In a mesmerizing fusion of rock ‘n’ roll, campy humor, and unabashed hedonism, the Melbourne production of The Rocky Horror Show has hit the stage with a flair that is nothing short of spectacular.
Bringing to life Richard O’Brien’s cult classic musical, this production captivated an opening night audience at the Atheneum Theatre with its infectious energy and dazzling performances.
If you’ve never seen The Rocky Horror Show on stage or film, here’s a quick summary:
The Rocky Horror Show tells the story of Brad and his fiancée Janet, two squeaky clean college kids who meet Dr Frank’n’Furter an extra-terrestrial mad scientist from the galaxy of Transylvania where people really like to party!
It’s an adventure they’ll never forget, with fun, frolics, frocks and frivolity, bursting with timeless songs and outrageous outfits.
At the heart of the production is an ensemble cast that embodies their characters with a magnetic vitality.
The role of Dr. Frank’n’Furter, is played by Australian superstar Jason Donovan. Strutting the stage in heels and fishnet stockings, Donovan really goes BIG, commanding the stage with a devilish charm.
A real highlight was is the portrayal of the naive yet endearing Brad Majors (Ethan Jones) and Janet Weiss (Deirdre Khoo). Their strong harmonious voices, coupled with their impeccable comedic timing, eliciting laughter and applause from the audience at every turn.
These two have serious musical theater chops, with a physicality and expressiveness that played right to the back of the room. (I should know as I was sitting in the very last row and got every expression).
Khoo really stole the show for me, and I was deeply invested with Janet’s ride from from innocence to sexual awakening.
Supporting characters such as Rocky, Riff Raff, Magenta, and Columbia deliver solid performances, showcasing their versatility and adding layers of eccentricity to the production.
The beloved Myf Warhurst plays the role of narrator, which was a little under-cooked. I adore Myf, but her naturalistic delivery didn’t quite match the campy energy levels of the other performers and her scenes felt a bit lost.
The musical numbers in The Rocky Horror Show are the beating heart of the production, and the Melbourne cast delivers them with gusto. From the electrifying “Time Warp” to the sensually charged “Sweet Transvestite,” each song is executed flawlessly, with the entire ensemble coming together to deliver an unforgettable performance.
The energy on stage is infectious, and the opening night audience was swept up in the pulsating rhythms and infectious melodies, dancing and singing along with pure abandon.
While the production revels in its raunchiness and eccentricity, it also manages to delve into deeper themes of acceptance, sexual liberation, and the celebration of individuality.
This 50 year old production still challenges societal norms and encourages audiences to embrace their desires and embrace their true selves, no matter how unconventional or misunderstood they may be. It is a powerful message wrapped in an extravaganza of glitter and glam, leaving a lasting impact on all who experience it.
There were a couple of scenes that played non-consensual sex as comedy, which I don’t think land the same today as they did way back when this show was written. And although most of the audience took it as fun, I didn’t feel those scenes aged well.
Although the production website suggests audiences should be 12yr or above, I would recommend a minimum appropriate age to be at least 14-15 years. My 14yo who loves the movie but said she felt a bit uncomfortable in some of the more overtly sexual scenes (that are a bit more graphic that the movie portrays).
Written and created by Richard O’Brien, The Rocky Horror Show has become one of the world’s favourite musicals and is currently the only contemporary rock musical to celebrate 50 years on stage. Since it first opened in London in 1973 at the Royal Court’s Theatre Upstairs, The Rocky Horror Show has been continuously on stage somewhere in the world and has paved its way into history as one of the Rock ‘n’ Roll classics of musical theatre.
The Melbourne production of The Rocky Horror Show is a must-see for die hard fans of this cult classic, and those seeking a night of unabashed revelry.
Now playing at the Atheneum Theatre in Melbourne till July 30th 2023 and then going on tour to Perth and Canberra.
Tickets on sale now at www.rockyhorror.com.au
My Poppet attended this show as guests of Lucky Star Media for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own
Read all my past Theatre Reviews here