Comment Editor Colette Fountain and Print Editor Kitty Grant come together to review The Rocky Horror Picture Show, applauding its magnificent use of audience participation which left them wanting to come again – this time in full costume
Perspective 1: Colette Fountain
It is very rare that I see a live musical which I have not already memorised the words to but after seeing the opening performance of The Rocky Horror Show at the Alexandra Theatre, I think that might be the best way to enjoy the show.
From the incredible costumes which were mirrored by a large percentage of the audience, to the hilariously witty political commentary from Philip Franks as the show’s narrator, it was enjoyable from start to finish. Having never attended a musical with audience participation, I was hesitant as to whether I would find it enjoyable, but the ever-talented cast of the show bounced off audience contributions perfectly, only increasing how entertaining the musical was.
A standout performance for me was Ore Oduba as Brad and Haley Flaherty as Janet. They both embodied the role so perfectly, making their transformation from suburbanite Americans into members of the Frank-n-Furter castle all the more believable. Haley’s energetic performance truly fit the role perfectly and the way that the pair interacted with each other added layers to the musical beyond the fan favourite Frank-n-Furter.
Famously, the audience participate most significantly during ‘Time Warp’, a song I knew lyrically but not choreographically – it was still so much fun. The entire audience in the stalls got up to dance, following the instructions set by the show’s narrator to dance along with the cast, something that was repeated during the bows at the end of the show.
Everything about the show managed to create such a strong sense of community among the audience, from the call-and-response style, to the joining in singing, to the costumes. I would love to see this musical again, this time joining in and turning up in full costume, and fully intend on buying tickets to a later performance of this show while it is still in Birmingham; if that does not indicate how truly great and just utterly fun this musical is, I am not sure what will, I really cannot recommend it enough.
Perspective 2: Kitty Grant
As a huge fan of the film, I have long been wanting to go to a public showing of Rocky Horror—the audience participation, costumes, and fan dedication are legendary. This touring production, which is running at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre from the 27th of September to the 2nd of October, was a great introduction to the world of Rocky Horror showings.
This production of the musical does not really offer any surprises, with essentially the same lines as the 1975 film, which is based on the 1973 original production of the musical, but that is the point of Rocky Horror. The cult following of both the film and the musical is based on fans watching the same thing over and over, learning its ins and outs, so I would imagine, for the most part, attending this production of The Rocky Horror Show would be a similar experience to attending any previous tour, or indeed a screening of the film.
The main difference between versions of The Rocky Horror Show is the cast. Most promotional material for this tour has focused on Strictly winner Ore Oduba, who plays Brad, giving a respectable performance of probably the least interesting character in the show. For me, however, the standout among the cast was Philip Franks as the Narrator, who built up a great rapport with the audience, cracking timely political jokes and engaging with fans via call and response.
Overall this production of the Rocky Horror Show was great fun for me as a long time fan of the film, but first-time attendee of a public showing. I can also imagine it would be great for hardcore fans who want to dress up and engage in the call-and-response or act as a great introduction to the show for brand new fans.
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