Review | The Rocky Horror Show | Sunderland Empire
Invited | The Rocky Horror Show is in Sunderland this week, and how happy are we this cult rock horror play has decsencded on the Sunderland Empire. With Ore Oduba of Strictly Come Dancing fame touring as Brad Jones, the masses got dressed up and took their seats for this picture show. It was the first time I had ever seen the show, was a little naive in not knowing the storyline but knew it had a massive following, so I was intrigued more than anything for this one.
If you don’t know what this show is about, here’s a little background. The Rocky Horror Show, with music, book, and lyrics by Richard O’Brien. First on stage in 1973, this musical stage production has lasted the ages and also been a film. It was made to be a parody tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the 1930s through to the early 1960s. It centres around newly engaged Brad and Janet, two young geek like teens who are on their way to meet a their old professor Dr Scott. Sadly they breakdown in the middle of nowhere and find a nearby creepy castle. All they want is a telephone call for help, but once invited into this castle they meet mad scientist Dr Frank’n’Furter, (Stephen Webb) and his friends Columbia (Lauren Ingram) Riff Raff (Kristian Lavercombe) and his sister Magnetta (Suzie McAdam) and the frankenstein style self creation Rocky (Ben Westhead). Through their stay both Brad and Janet are seduced by our doctor and put in danger, as well as meeting his Frankenstein like creation ‘Rocky’. Narrated throughout by Philip Franks we find what comes of these two lovebirds amongst a range of catchy, guitar inspired songs.
Ore Oduba was the big name in the show playing Brad Majors, We already knew he could dance, but did you know he can sing too? Yes his voice is just as smooth as his footwork. Hayley Flaherty was just as geeky Janet Weiss, who displayed her great vocals in ‘Touch A, Touch A, Touch Me’. This couple were young, sweet and cute. ‘Dammit Janet’ was a nice ode to love between our couple.
Stephen Webb in the role of pansexual, cross-dressing mad scientist, Frank’n’Furter was just great. He brought this role to it’s fullest as this extravagant character. Showing the couple his creation of a perfectly scultped ‘Rocky’, while secretly seducing each one of them seperately. The sexual innuendo is right in front of you and the staging brilliantly designed to show it. Sweet Transvestite’, helped to introduce Stephen Webbs character. Riff Raff played by Kristian Lavercombe and his sister Magnetta Suzie McAdam helped to support well. New creation Rocky chipped in with muscles to adore and song as well.
Narrator Philip Franks was on form, and had to be. Such is the reputation of the show audience members interacted and shouted on stage comments in reply to the script. This was expected but our Narrator was able to respond spontaneoulsy everytime with some modern references too. Keeping the audience in check and ensuring the story was told.
The show moves at a good pace, the songs always upbeat, and had everyone singing along, especially with the ‘Time Warp’. Audience members stood, danced, clapped and sang back. The music needs to be singled out also. These songs fitted perfectly and plenty of them are anthems . I already mentioned ‘The Time Warp’ but whether it was fast paced or more of a rock ballad they were all very enjoyable.
Overall I found it to be a good night, plenty of atmosphere, an engaged audience, great laughs to a bizarre yet genius storyline. I did come out thinking it was one of the maddest and craziest musicals I’ve ever seen, but then again what show gains a cult reputation for being normal! Some of the sexual innuendo and references I hadnt prepared for, however were funny when they came along too. not my normal type of show but would see again!
Mon 20 Sep – Sat 25 Sep 2021
Sunderland Empire – Tickets available from £13.00