Stepping into the Regent Theatre for what was to be my first encounter with The Rocky Horror Show live on stage I was met with an abundance of fishnets, suspenders and high heels; and that was just the men.
If you’ve never been to see the Rocky Horror Show before it is a theatre experience like no other. The majority of the audience came along dressed up as their favourite characters and audience members frequently shouted out innuendos and alternative words of the dialogue (aided by the long pauses from the actors themselves) which took a short while to get used to.
The Rocky Horror Show is a farcical tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the late 1940s through to the 1970s. The plot follows the recently engaged couple Brad and Janet whose car breaks down in the middle of the storm and are forced to seek help at the spooky castle of the mad transvestite scientist Frank-N-Furter who is unveiling his latest creation, a perfectly formed muscly, blonde haired Frankenstein-esque monster.
The whole cast were on top form and were 100% committed to delivering a high octane, raunchy and fun-filled show from start to finish. The ensemble helped make the show from the moment they appeared on stage aiding in the overall spectacle
Diana Vickers (semi-finalist on the X-factor in 2008) played the role of the timid, straight-laced Janet and was note perfect throughout. Her portrayal of Janet at the beginning of the show was enough but she could have definitely let loose a lot more through act 2 as Janet is seduced into Frank’N’Furter’s world. Opposite Vickers was Ben Freeman (Emmerdale) who played the geeky and equally conservative Brad making the two the perfectly naive couple.
Steve Punt was brilliant as the dry, quick-witted Narrator that had to negotiate the majority of the audience interaction and did so with ease. He displayed all the characteristics of a seasoned professional and was particularly funny in one famous musical number as he stood with a flip chart pointing to the actions for the audience to follow along with the actions.
One of the stand-out stars of the show was Kristian Lavercombe who has played the role of Riff Raff over 1,000 times all over the world. His characterization and depiction of the stereo-typical creepy butler was perfect and it was only afterwards that I realised how young Kristian was which makes the way he has mastered the role even more impressive. His show-stealing moment came when he led the cast (and also the majority of the audience) in The Time Warp. His side-kick Kay Murphy was also notable in her role as the sultry Magenta.
The main man Liam Tamne was effortlessly risqué as Doctor Frank’N’Furter who had the audience in stitches time after time. He owns that stage, the rest of the characters and every single audience member in the auditorium from the moment he steps on stage for his big reveal (literally) Sweet Transvestite. Paul Cattermole (S Club 7) makes his debut in The Rocky Horror show as his first musical project since S Club 7 as Eddie/Dr Scott.
There were a few issues with the sound as some dialogue and singing was lost to the power of Ben Van Tienen’s incredible band which were situated on stage above the action. The set by Hugh Durrant was foolproof and allowed for slick scene changes which contributed to the sleekness of the overall performance.
If you’ve never seen the show before it can at first feel like you have entered into a secret cult where everyone knows the format and the in-jokes apart from you. However, after the first few awkward encounters with the formula of the show you soon become settled into what is an extravaganza of a musical experience.
Whilst the plot is non-nonsensical, the costumes hilarious and the script down-right rude, The Rocky Horror Show is some of the best fun you can ever have at the theatre whilst supposedly coming along to sit down and watch a show.
Tickets for Rocky Horror are on sale and available from The Regent Theatre Box Office, by calling 0844 871 7649 or visiting www.atgtickets.com/stoke
Photography by Sean Webb