I have something to confess…I am not a virgin.
Yes, I’ve seen the Rocky Horror Show more than once – and to say I know the Time Warp back to front would be an understatement. So, when I heard the news that the Opera House Manchester was playing host to it in the New Year I thought what better way to beat the January blues than pay it a visit.
Of course I wasn’t the only fan that felt that way. They all turned out for Rocky –and, as the auditorium began to fill up, I found myself surrounded by a sea of stockings and suspenders…that was just the blokes!
You could say the air was full of an-tic – I -pation and for most of the first half it didn’t disappoint. Jam-packed with rousing numbers such as Sweet Transvestite, Dammit Janet and of course the Time Warp, people were up on their feet and heckling in true Rocky Horror Show style.
But somewhere along the line it fell a little flat.
One reason for that was the glue which holds it all together wasn’t particularly strong, Charlie Condou as the Narrator. Now in past productions I’ve seen senior stalwarts such as Roger Lloyd-Pack, Stephen Fry and Phillip Franks (who by the way is returning to the role during the latter end of the tour) all of which have the gravitas, dry wit and authority the role demands. Charlie Condou never quite hits the mark, although, as the actor confessed (after a line fluff), it was his first night so maybe as the tour goes on he might improve.
As with any Rocky Horror Show production you expect a sprinkling of celebs in the cast and joining Condou are X Factor’s Diana Vickers (Janet), former Emmerdale star Ben Freeman (Brad) and S Club 7’s Paul Cattermole (Eddie/Dr Scott).
Ben Freeman has notched up his musical theatre credits over the years and plays the Brad role with ease. His ‘guns’ are the real star though as he takes off his shirt to reveal an impressive set that even gives buff bodied Dominic Andersen (Rocky) a run for his money. Diana Vickers proves she has left her famous ‘claw’ behind and shows off her vocal talents, especially in her raunchy solo ‘Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me’ and to be fair S Club’s Paul puts in a decent performance in his dual role despite it being his first musical project since the band’s reunion.
The scene stealer has to be Kristian Lavercombe’s Riff Raff, a part he has played on numerous occasions, even alongside the show’s creator and original Riff Raff Richard O’ Brien. Lavercombe is the essence of what the Rocky Horror Show is all about and he hits every falsetto note with true Transylvanian style.
If you’ve never seen the Rocky Horror Show onstage before you will definitely be entertained with this version and, like many others, will be rising to your feet to give it a standing ovation. For me though this production fell short of previous ones and failed to have me giving myself over ‘to absolute pleasure’.
Runs at The Opera House until 16th January