The world-famous cult musical The Rocky Horror Show needs no introduction, with its memorable characters, unforgettable songs and iconic dance moves. Not initially to my taste but something that’s really grown on me recently, I first watched the film version about 5 years ago with my sci-fi mad husband after he learnt about my passion for musical theatre. During that first viewing I remember thinking the movie was absolutely bonkers and I struggled to understand what was going on. I was however impressed by the songs and knew the Time Warp well, thanks to a dance lesson at one of the Centre Parcs kids clubs when I was young. The song was so catchy and I can still recall the dance moves to this day! Since giving the film another try in recent years and having a much more positive experience, I was thrilled to receive a press night invitation last week to the stage version at The Marlowe Theatre.
The Rocky Horror Show opened at The Marlowe Theatre on Monday 26th July to a full and very excitable audience. Rocky Horror is a big deal in the entertainment world and seeing the show live on opening night was an opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up. I attended the press night with my friend Jon and he was such great company for the performance. Having seen Rocky Horror many times before, he knew most of the call back lines and we had a fabulous time catching up about theatre before the performance and during the interval.
A tribute to the science fiction B-movies of the mid-20th century, The Rocky Horror Show follows Brad and Janet: a recently engaged couple living in a town called Denton. After experiencing a flat tyre on a rainy evening, the couple approach the residence of scientist Dr Frank-N-Furter looking for help. After brief encounters with Dr Frank-N-Furter’s staff Riff Raff and Magenta, Brad and Janet quickly learn this is no ordinary manor house. Over the next couple of hours Brad and Janet dance the Time Warp, witness the doctor’s scientific experiment in the form of Rocky and become totally detached from reality. Life will never be the same again for the young couple after the unfortunate events of the evening unfold, making them question each other, what people are capable of, and whether extra terrestrials actually exist. Set to a brilliant soundtrack, The Rocky Horror Show is an outrageously funny piece of theatre that challenges society and breaks social norms.
Sets, lighting and special effects
I was amazed by the amount of colour in the production compared to the movie. From the vibrant backdrops to the eccentric costumes, every scene had something exciting and new to look at. In particular, the spectacular ‘Floor Show’ scene featured a wall of red glitter that when combined with the stage lighting, highlighted the glitz and glamour of the musical number. You can really tell that the production team had a blast putting together the sets, lighting and special effects for the musical. Our seats felt like they were quite literally taking off from the theatre during the final scenes, as Dr Frank-N-Furter’s castle left for Transsexual, Transylvania. It is this attention to detail that made seeing The Rocky Horror Show a fully immersive theatrical experience, not just a musical.
BBC presenter and Strictly Come Dancing champion Ore Oduba plays Brad in the UK tour and the role of Janet is performed by musical theatre actress Haley Flaherty. The duo have such a great relationship on stage, adding lots of humour to the traumatised couple’s lines. Both Ore and Haley’s facial expressions were always so animated, adding to the fun of the show.
The stand out role however was Dr Frank-N-Furter (played by Stephen Webb). Commanding the stage every time he made an appearance, the audience always gave him an immense applause when he performed a musical number. Webb brought drama, sass and comedy to the role, always leaving the audience in fits of laughter.
We didn’t dress up for the performance, but it was so much fun looking around the room at everybody’s outfits. Lots of the audience dressed up in fishnet stockings, corsets and sparkly hats, mimicking the legendary characters.
I was amazed at how many people stood up and sang along during the Time Warp. Almost the entire theatre were on their feet during the finale, jumping to the left and stepping to the right in time with the music.
My experience as a Rocky Horror newbie
Rocky Horror has a very devoted fanbase, but as somebody who appreciates the production more for the music than the plot, please don’t let this put you off going to see the show. This was my first time seeing the musical and I quickly picked up the production etiquette. I did a little research beforehand and stumbled across a really helpful guide on The Rocky Horror Show’s website. It’s worth a read if you’re a newbie to Rocky Horror and are not sure what to expect on the tour.
Remainder of the tour
The Rocky Horror Show cast and crew are at The Marlowe Theatre until Saturday and there are a few tickets still available on the theatre’s website. Rocky Horror has a party-like atmosphere and if you’ve not headed back to the theatre yet, it’s a really fun production to start with. After this week the tour continues around the UK until June 2022, covering 13 other venues.
As always, I had a wonderful time at The Marlowe Theatre. On reflection now having seen both the stage show and the film version, I much preferred the storyline of Rocky Horror live in the theatre. I really appreciate having the opportunity to review such a popular production in The Rocky Horror Show*. Seeing the theatre back at full capacity brought so much joy; I couldn’t be happier for the Marlowe team!
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx
*Our tickets for The Rocky Horror Show were gifted in exchange for a review of the performance.