Review: The Rocky Horror Show at Manchester Opera House

The number of fishnet tights, stocking and suspenders and red lipstick adorning the throng of people clamouring into Manchester’s Opera House (and that was just the men) means only one thing...

By Manchester's Finest | 15 January 2019

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The Rocky Horror Show is back in town and the audiences can’t get enough of it!

The musical penned by the eccentric and uber talented Richard O’Brien first took to the stage back in 1973, quickly followed by a movie version in 1975 starring a young Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry and over 43 years later the cult classic is still getting people doing the Time Warp again.

This latest incarnation is part of a 12 month UK tour for the show, starring former A1 band member Ben Adams and Strictly Come Dancing professional Joanne Clifton as Brad and his fiancé Jane, two squeaky clean college kids who meet Dr Frank ‘n’ Furter on the way to visit their old college professor and find their lives changes forever! It’s basically 2 hours of fun, frolics and fabulous songs, including Sweet Transvestite and Touch Me.

If you’ve never seen The Rocky Horror Show before then it’s an experience you need to undertake, the buzz from both the cast and the crowd is electric. It’s one of only a few theatre productions that actually encourage audience participation and the fans come out dressed in outrageous outfits and have some hilarious heckles that often see them become the stars of the show.

Ben Adams is perfectly cast as Brad and brings his pop vocals to the part giving the straight-laced character a boyband edge and treating the audience to a great solo in. Joanna Clifton is also a real gem as Janet proving that her singing is as jaw-dropping as the dancing we have seen her do on Strictly. Clifton belts out some of the latter show numbers and puts an immense amount of gusto into her performance showing she is fast becoming a force to reckon with in the musicals industry.

Joining them are too less recognisable names but extremely bright stars, in the form of Lauren Harrison (Usherette/Magenta) and Kristian Lavercombe (Riff-Raff). Harrison, last seen in the UK tour of Legally Blonde, gives her own spin on both parts, delivering them with a dry humour and a fantastic vocal talent. Lavercombe is a real show stealer with a falsetto that is pure class. The performer has notched up over 1400 performances in The Rocky Horror Show and I would go so far to say his delivery of Riff-Raff is second only to O’Brien’s who created both the role and the musical.

Stephen Webb rocks out as Frank ‘n’Furter putting in a rather butch performance as the sweet transvestite from Transylvania. It’s quite a refreshing spin to watch as someone who has seen the show on a number of occasions with different Franks and he certainly does not disappoint.

Elsewhere a shout out must go to Coronation Street’s much loved Liz MacDonald aka Beverley Callard as the show’s first ever female narrator. Despite others such as Spice Girl Emma Bunton and presenter Mel Giedroyc doing the odd stint in past productions no female has ever played the entire role in the show. Callard steps up to the plate and carries the gauntlet with a big dose of Manchester pride. There’s an number of occasions when her reactions to the constant heckling make you laugh out loud and her witty responses come thick and fast, which is no mean feat.

The show runs for 3 weeks in Manchester, until 26th January and as they say in the show ‘Don’t Dream It, Be It’ – put your best sussys on and get down there for a night you won’t forget in a while!


The Rocky Horror Show

Venue: Manchester Opera House
Runs: 9th – 26th January 2019
Cost: From £13

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