The Rocky Horror Show

Richard O'Brien
Sunderland Empire

Suzanne Shaw and David Badella

On the night of Tuesday June 19th 1973 a legend was born, Richard O`Brien's Rock 'N' Roll musical was unleashed in a small hot venue, The Royal Court Thetare Upstairs. Not even the author himself knew that more than thirty years on this would still be running to packed out audiences. So why is this off-the-wall musical still alive and kicking?

For anyone who has been living under a rock and does not know the plot, prepare to be enlightened! It tells the story of two very ordinary naive Americans, Brad and Janet, who have been attending a friend's wedding. Unfortunately for them they encounter a flat tyre on returning home and are forced to find help at a nearby creepy castle. Only nothing here is as it seem as they find the host, a weird Transylvanian Transvestite, and his servants are far from normal. Frank 'N' Furter, Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia have a lot in store from their guests!

A pure bit of fun could be the best words to describe this show since day one of its creation. Grabbing the best and funniest bits of B-movie classics and putting them together with catchy toe tapping Rock 'N' Roll musical numbers has taken The Rocky Horror Show from that small venue in 1973, onto a seven year London run, Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo stints and a cult classic movie. Tonight over thirty years on its still making them dance in their undies in the aisles!

Stepping into the high heels of Frank 'N' Furter is Laurence Olivier Award winner David Bedella. Bedella looks more than comfortable as this Sweet Transvestite, gliding around the stage as camp as a row tents in Carry On Camping! He has a great voice shining through as he is so at ease in this wonderful role. A big surprise to me was how outstanding former Hear'Say popstar Suzanne Shaw was: she is so at home on stage with strong voice and fabulous presence. Another surprise to me was having a tall and thin Columbia played by Kay Murphy towering over the rest of the cast, slightly odd casting to me. In the five times I have seen the show I have always seen and preferred a small and cute Columbia! What next? A three foot six Frank 'N' Furter?

With a show like this there has always been a great cast and audience relationship each feeding of the other heightening the comedy. When the audience heckle, the cast heckle back. However tonight it seemed like they had the blinkers on and were just set to get the show right and smooth. A great miss but still fun to be had from the cast.

With the new production comes a brand new set design by Janet Bird. Looking like a Tim Burton/Hammer Horror set this gives wonderful dark atmosphere to the show as well as making all the scene changes slick and smooth.

Well as I said this is a pure bit of fun adult fun... to be enjoyed with your friends whilst dressed up. Oh yes, that is what The Rocky Horror Show is all about: leave your brain at the door, strap on your suspenders and dance the night away with a musical classic!

Reviewer: Wayne Miller

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