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REVIEW - The Rocky Horror Show is an infectious timeless masterpiece that just keeps on giving!


On Tuesday, we were invited to the Manchester Opera House to see The Rocky Horror Show. Our reviewer, Lizzie Johnston went to see the show for the first time. Read what she thought of the first Rocky Horror experience...

Corsets, fishnets and red lipstick can only mean one thing -
The Rocky Horror Show. The cult classic, created by Richard O’Brien, has transported from Transylvania back again to the Manchester Opera House. The plot follows the adventures of Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple who stumble upon the bizarre castle of Dr. Frank N Furter, a mad scientist from another planet. What unfolds is a wild ride of seduction, science fiction, and rock 'n' roll.

The electrifying rollercoaster of glam, gender-bending, and pure unadulterated fun has captivated audiences for decades and there’s no wonder this show has left a huge mark in the world of theatre. From the very start when the house lights go down and the band begins to play,the audience are roaring with excitement and anticipation, despite many knowing exactly what to expect having been before. 

There’s a certain aura around this show and it doesn’t matter what you wear, who you are or even what day it is, every audience member just wants to have fun. It’s rare in theatre to see a show like this, where a lively audience is not just expected but encouraged making it an experience as a whole. 

The set can simply be described as fabulous, with glitter curtains, multicoloured lights and a mezzanine hidden behind a giant film strip; it’s extravagant yet not over the top. The costumes are exactly what you expect and what the audience love, each character dressed in their iconic looks that even a few audience members rivalled. The look of sequins, basques and high heels contrasted the innocent and fairly plain costumes of Janet and Brad, not forgetting the gorgeous makeup looks of dark eyes and red lips. It’s pretty clear for the audience to see that Janet and Brad are far out of their comfort zone and completely lost.  

Janet, played by Haley Flaherty (The Mousetrap, Travels With My Aunt, Matilda), at first seems sweet and almost shy, but this doesn’t last long as she undergoes a full transformation of character as she embraces the world of Rocky Horror. She’s trusting and loving of her fiance Brad, played by Richard Meek (Hairspray, Annie, Thoroughly Modern Milly), who despite being unnerved by the whole situation, attempts to stay brave for her; but he too discovers a new side to himself. 

There’s no Rocky Horror Show without the iconic Frank N Furter, played by Stephen Webb (Titanic, Rothschild & Sons, Wonderland), who brings a new level of energy to the show. Webb’s Frank N Furter is strong-minded, quick-witted, and captivates the audience with equal parts of charm and mischief. The sweet transvestite from Transylvania is the show's magnetic force who leads a quirky ensemble including Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia. 

The first moment where I realised this was not an ordinary night at the theatre is when Philip Franks (Witness for the Prosecution, Art, Noises Off) entered the stage as the Narrator. His improvisation and comical comebacks to audience shoutouts had the auditorium roaring with laughter and cheers. Every time he commanded the stage, his comedy was timely, relevant and entertaining. It geared the audience up perfectly for any opportunity to participate in the show, particularly for the unforgettable ‘Time Warp’, a tune and dance known by many that got us all jumping out of our chairs. 

The show itself is a dazzling fusion of pop and rock with anthems including "Sweet Transvestite," and "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me", which are songs that have transcended the stage and are now a firm part of pop culture. It’ll have you toe-tapping along and leave you singing the tunes for the next week, they’re just so catchy and fun. 

The Rocky Horror Show is an infectious timeless masterpiece. It embraces the weird and wonderful in a gender-bending celebration of liberation and self-expression - no wonder it’s a well loved cult classic! Whether you’ve seen it several times, have only seen the movie version or have never seen it at all, the stage show is an experience you don’t want to miss. 


The Rocky Horror Show is on the Opera House, Manchester until Sun 28th January 2024.



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