THEATRE – Rocky Horror Show – Festival Theatre – 4.5K

RHS_2457_Australian Cast 2018_PhotobyJeffBusby_previewBy Peter Maddern

More than 40 years on from its first stage performances in London and then the cult film, it’s hard to fully comprehend what an impact Richard O’Brien’s gender bending, self-actualising indulgence actually then had on audiences given so much of what it promoted has now become common place.

What keeps it going in 2018 is its continuing delight in poking fun at societal norms and a rollicking great song set. And a master showman as Dr Frank-n-Furter. Craig McLachlan is this production’s choice and the former star of such Australian staples as Neighbours, Home & Away and as Dr Lucien Blake takes to his role with unbridled relish utilising a voice as booming and bulging as his legs in those fish net stockings.

In his castle McLachlan is well supported by Kristian Lavercombe as the deformed Riff Raff, Amanda Harrison and Nadia Komazec as his muses Magenta and Columbia and, of course, the realised perfection of Brendan Irving as Rocky Horror himself. Rob Mallett as Brad and Michelle Smitheram as Janet provide more than adequate newly-wed naivety when they are stripped bare (metaphorically as well as physically) in Frank’s castle of fantasies.

rhs-logo1I doubt there are many other musicals of any genre that contains so many great songs in their first half. They are more than the proverbial toe tapping melodies, especially once the audience claims for itself (as it did on opening night) a licence to provide unscripted interjections (pushing particularly Narrator, Cameron Daddo to the limit of his ability to provide successful adlib responses). After the delights of the bedroom scene immediately beyond the interval, whatever the show may then lack in tunes it makes up in message before reprises of the four main hits brings the audience to its feet in recognition of a musical as contemporary today as in the early 1970s.

Don’t kid yourself that you’ve seen all this before. This Rocky Horror Show is highly commendable theatre in keeping with many years of fine New Year musicals in this town. McLachlan shows again he is much more than an aged teenager thrilling stud muffin and while Chris Luscombe’s direction doesn’t take us anywhere much new and the sound mixing in the first half needs attention this as fine a creation as any Dr Frank-n-furter himself could hope to conjure up on the slab in his lab.

Kryztoff Rating   4.5K

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