If you can believe it, it’s been 50 glorious years of Rocky Horror, across stage and screen. It all started in a small 63-seater in London on the evening of 19 June 1973. Since, it has been performed worldwide in over thirty countries and has been translated into more than twenty languages. Of course, there were downs as well as ups across those five decades, with show runs wearing thin and the initial release of the film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), getting bleak reviews.
But thanks to dedicated audiences breathing life into it, whether that be at a midnight screening of the film or seeing the show live on stage, Rocky Horror and its fans have cemented it as a cult classic. And so, it returns to Sydney again, to celebrate 50 iconic years, with musical numbers including ‘Time Warp’, ‘I Can Make You a Man’, and ‘Sweet Transvestite’.
Performance is everything in Rocky Horror, and Jason Donovan is excellent as Frank-n-Furter, reprising his late 90s turn as the beloved character. Commanding the stage and sounding sensational, Donovan did occasionally seem like he was running on auto-pilot, leaving things a little one-dimensional – when, as the song goes, we should be ‘in another dimension, with voyeuristic intention‘ – but that is really just nit-picking a strong, polished performance.
Taking on the role of Narrator is much loved Aussie personality Myf Warhurst. Warhurst is, undeniably, charming, and even a heckle from the crowd couldn’t sway her – and given that audience participation is practically a given here, a heckle or two should be expected. But something didn’t quite match up, with Warhurst not really fitting in with the camp, outrageous nature of the show.
Someone who absolutely got the memo was Henry Rollo, an absolute stand-out as Riff Raff and a real favourite in this production – as measured scientifically from the applause during his final bow. Rollo really embodied the character and made it his own, bringing a lot of energy to the stage. It was hard to take your eyes off him. He is an incredibly talented musical performer, and certainly one to watch in the future.
And the talented cast members continued on and on, with the stunning Stellar Perry as Usherette, introducing us to this world with ‘Science Fiction’, and later through her portrayal of the sexy and electrifying Magenta. Brad (Ethan Jones) and Janet (Deidre Khoo) were the perfectly innocent (though not for long) couple, both shining with stunning vocals, Darcy Eagle personified Columbia, Loredo Malcolm embodied Rocky from head to toe, and lastly, Ellis Dolan pulled double duty as Eddie and Doctor Scott, delivering that cherished rock ‘n roll.
It goes without saying that this is a fun night. Naughty and nice, and promising to have you dancing on your feet before the show is over, The Rocky Horror Show will live on for as long as we, the audiences and fans, will let it. And if the Sydney run is anything to go by, it’s abundantly clear that this musical is not going anywhere – except for the planet Transsexual, in the galaxy of Transylvania, of course.
FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE
Rocky Horror Show is playing at the Theatre Royal in Sydney until 1 April 2023. For more information and how to purchase tickets head HERE
Reviewer attended on 18 February 2023
Images credit: Daniel Boud