The Rocky Horror Show

Athenaeum Theatre


Athenaeum Theatre
10 Feb – 10 Mar
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The Melbourne streets have come alive this summer, and tonight it’s all a party rage as the Athenaeum Theatre vibrates with the excitement that it’s the opening night of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show!  And what a thrill ride this production is.  Imagine strapping yourself into the front seat of the craziest rollercoaster in town. You speed up and fly down, you jump to the left and get slapped to the right. You flip inside a tunnel and find yourself in a ghoulish ghost train, only to be smacked to the floor and shot out through an untoward escape covered in a haze of white smoke.  Looking around, you wonder what on earth just happened – and not being able to put exact words to it, you think back and just know it was one hell of an experience.

The Rocky Horror Show takes you on a journey where everyone is a part of the performance and there are many moments where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, or you laugh so much you cry.  If you’ve not been to the theatre before this will be your trip of a lifetime!  Definitely something special to remember, it features an immensely talented cast that includes Jason Donavan (Frank N Furter), Joel Creasey (Narrator), Blake Bowden (Brad) and Deirdre Khoo (Janet) just to name a few. This production is an Australian star studded wonder with so many fabulous parts to enjoy.

When the story opens you will first be captivated by a fluorescent pink transcendence of light and the incredible vocals of the usherette (Stellar Perry) who entices you into this twisted science fiction world.  With a thunderous applause there are flashes of swirled green and purple and we meet the couple Brad (Bowden) and Janet (Khoo) driving stiffly in their 1970’s automobile under a full moon. Unfortunately, or some may say fortunately, for this simple-life loving pair they end up with a flat tyre and need to look to the closest house for some assistance. The crowd suddenly go wild as our Narrator (Creasey) takes to the stage bringing with him an air of magnificence in a gorgeous velvet jacket. Creasey declares “This is already one of the best moments of my life.” and that’s it, you are hooked.  He’s got the entire audience begging for more.  Cresey’s interactions with the characters on stage and those seated in the theatre truly bring this party to life. And this is where our innocent young couple find themselves.  Suddenly trapped in a house filled with highly sexual beings who enjoy all the great pleasures of life – watch the audience scream and cheer as the host of the house Dr Frank N Furter (Donavan) enters!  Busily trying to create the perfect monster who arrives in the form of a sparkly muscle man (Daniel Erbacher) this is when all the temptation, chaotic fun and messy mayhem takes place.   

Director Christopher Luscombe has put together a stabber of a production here.  The show is crisp and sharp and fresh.  Whilst the characters themselves are truly theatrical and thus so removed from the type of society that’s walking down our streets, they are still relatable for their era and for aspects of everyday humanity.  There are parts of all of us that we are, or we want to be – being showcased.  We relate, we agree and we applaud.  Loudly!  The entire ensemble are committed to this story and with seamless scene transitions they allow the adventure to flow straight at you in an imaginative mind blowing entertainment rainbow.  The music features the catchy, familiar tunes we know and love to bop along to, with musical director Daniel Griffin and his phenomenal band executing the score to perfection.  There are some gorgeous moments where the crooning vocals lean you forward, beautiful harmonies that give you those ear to ear grins, and then there’s the belts that warrant a standing ovation. Both Bowden and Khoo allow for many gorgeous shared moments and they work together as a believable pair.  Cultural identity here is at its best where characters are highlighting personas rather than look, therefore bringing theatre truly to the modern age and where we should be at.  

Whilst the company is not a large one, they make use of every part of the stage and you can’t take your eyes off Nathan M. Wright’s snappy choreography that even includes an impressive tap routine. Every part of this production adds height and excitement, with the bright sets and props and clever use of lighting.  Flashes on Frank N Furter’s face and the beam runs that flew into the audience all adding to the energy and atmosphere.  There are moments where you actually feel like you’re in a 1970’s disco.  The costumes accentuate every character and add detail that your mind may not even register.  But in that flicker you take in something that simply adds to the whole uplifting experience. 

A highlight of the show is most definitely Riff Raff (Henry Rollo) blasting the Time Warp out on stage.  It’s a song everyone knows and loves, and all expectations to be entertained during this number were met and went beyond.  The best part of it all was that you could see those on stage loved performing it just as much as the audience loved watching it.  Donavan lives up to every bit of his household name and owned the stage at every entrance and exit.  Sweet Transvestite was definitely a crowd favourite and like the perfect pair of stilettos it came with a delightful shade of colour, the right amount of poise, stance and all that is sensual. Creasy is so enjoyable in his role you’ll want him to tell you many more stories, and you’ll grab your phone to find the musical playlist as soon as the curtains close – wanting to experience this again and again!

The Rocky Horror Show is one that transports, captures, and showcases the beauty of individual expression whilst filling you with giggles, humour and just so much fun. The cast and crew deserved the thunderous applause and standing ovation at the end of the show and it was quite the experience to join in the singing and dancing as everyone under the roof partied together at the finale.

The Rocky Horror Show is spectacular, crazy and full of delight.  Something special to really enjoy, and be left wanting more.

Wendy Samantha

Wendy Samantha

Wendy Samantha is a writer and director and runs her own performing arts school. She has worked on many shows and musicals and is head of primary music at a prestigious Melbourne private school.
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