More than just sharing a noun, The Rocky Horror Show and Little Shop of Horrors have been born from a similar desire to subvert the norms of the genres they exist in, balancing out the camp absurdity of the very concept of a musical with likeable-yet-exaggerated characters, hilarious dialogue, and a whole bunch of ridiculous but gloriously entertaining scenarios. They’re both musicals for people who don’t like musicals, while also being a favourite among people who do. Go figure.
It all comes back to the people behind the original shows. For Rocky Horror, it was a simple case of the stars aligning with a bizarre show starring Tim Curry in London than took on a life of its own. In the case of Little Shop, things were a bit more orchestrated in terms of the musical – which first premiered on Broadway in 1982 – but its source material is something of a B-Grade masterpiece from famed director Roger Corman, who threw the film together in 1960 in a matter of days, basing the storyline around what they were able to utilise from another film set. Both these Horror spectaculars were as unassuming in their success as they were in their high value of entertainment. They were also something else entirely: they were unique, in a world of carbon copies that take themselves too seriously.
Now as much as this article seems like a sales pitch, it doesn’t seem to be entirely necessary. Though the musical remains the lesser known cult favourite of the two shows in mention, the reason the show is currently in Sydney is due solely to word of mouth and popular demand. This same production has already had a successful season in Sydney this year at the smaller Hayes Theatre, and now sits in the prestigious Sydney Theatre Company venue, the Roslyn Packer Theatre. It’s a short run this time – only eleven days – but the venue holds something like 10 times the audience.
And the unexpected success of the revival – which has been touring all year – feels very appropriate for a show that was born in absurdity, growing to unexpected popularity, with the lesser known Sydney based Luckiest Productions and Tinderbox Productions taking on this successful interpretation. It feels much like history repeating itself. And it’s a production that’s deserving of it. From the phenomenal work by Erth Visual & Physical Inc on the plant monster, to Brent Hill and Esther Hannaford in their starring roles as Seymour and Audrey (who steals the show with “Suddenly Seymour”), and some excellent direction from Dean Bryant, this is a marvellous and enjoyable revival. Even Lee Lin Chin makes an appearance! There is literally nothing not to love about it.
We reviewed the first Sydney leg of this production earlier in the year, which you can read HERE. The shows at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Sydney continue through to the 30th of July, with new shows having already been added. From there the show heads to Perth, where it will kick off shows at the His Majesty’s Theatre from 4th August. For tickets and more details, head HERE.
Photos: Jeff Busby