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The Rocky Horror Show

… Still An Experience After All These Years…

Reviewed by Alex Robinson

30 or so years ago New Zealander Richard O'Brien wrote "The Rocky Horror Show" and had it produced in London. It was aimed to be a takeoff (literally in some places) of the old horror sci-fi movies, performed as a musical.

After a raunchy opening song the story starts with the newly engaged couple - Brad and Janet (whose last name is pronounced "vice" ;D) - going for a drive in the country. Then, during a storm, one of the tyres is punctured and the spare is already flat! Seeking a phone Brad and Janet walk back two miles to a castle (yes a CASTLE!) that they had seen earlier. Ushered in by the minions Riff-Raff and Magenta, the young couple meet the mad scientist and transvestite: Frank N Furter. Made to accompany him they watch as he brings to life his new "play" toy - Rocky. Thus begins a decadent night of pleasurable sins as Brad and Janet endure erotic nightmares and sensual daydreams.

I found I was laughing almost constantly throughout the performance, whether it was at Janet's ditzy and innocent behaviour, Frank N Furter's amazing drag costumes, the bawdy and risqué jokes, or just the characters' on set expressions and small actions. The songs were great and the performers held very accurate pitch and good tone during all items.

The costumes (or lack there of) for the characters were fantastic with Frank N Furter having a wide array of glittery and close cut one-piece bodices, Riff-Raff and Magenta (equipped with both green and purple hair) wearing red velvet suits, and there was also a wide selection of feather boas appearing all over the place.

The casting was very well done. The creature "Rocky", played by Michael Edward, grabs audience attention even when not directly involved in the dialogue with his amazingly toned muscles (from the front row I can confirm that all of his abs are real) and his surprising display of gymnastics - an actor with such a body, acting talent AND being able to sing is a rare find.

In general, all of the actors played their parts to perfection: George Henare was a very convincing Frank N Furter, while Brad, Janet, Riff-Raff, Magenta and all the others portray their parts' characteristics (Be it being a geek, a sinful ditz, or just plainly immoral).

Rocky Horror Show PosterFriends, upon my booking of front row seats, warned me to take a newspaper with me. Why? I later learnt that audience participation has become a big part of some of "The Rocky Horror Show's" productions, and while it didn't feature when I went, I am sure nobody will mind if you customarily yell "Arsehole!" at Brad, and "Slut!" at Janet. My advice is to get seats as close to the centre and front as possible. In the front row you feel as though you are part of the show and that (at certain points) the characters will actually fall off right onto you. The only downside to being really close to the action is when, towards the end, the smoke machine sends a great cloud of "smoke" billowing towards the audience, and all you can do is be enveloped by a white shroud.

I could rave on for some time about all of the characters, their costumes, and acting abilities, but I think really you should go and see it for yourself instead - Just note, seeing the movie does not suffice (according to my friends whom I went with, the musical and movie are rather different).

In conclusion, the Court Theatre's production of "The Rocky Horror Show" is brilliant. Anyone (past about 16 years) will enjoy it and, even if you are the type of person who generally disapproves of sexual content, you are sure to laugh many times during these two hours of total hilarity. It is an event that is sure to stay in your memory forever.

And This Review From Tim Bain …

Having been a Court Theatre Ambassador for 2004 I had been told a bit about The Rocky Horror Show live on stage and how a lot of stuff was different to the movie. I was told the Time Warp lacked its traditional pelvic thrusts and its jump to the left, there was no water involved at all either from the audience OR the actual show and that it was very different to the movie which most people know and love - let alone the actual show which has a cult following involving screaming out slut when the name Janet is said or rice being thrown … but that this wasn't tolerated.

Having been told this I was worried … very worried … but how wrong I was. I was lucky enough, through the Ambassador programme, to see the dress rehearsal and attend several subsequent shows after that including an amazing 11 p.m. show on a Saturday night, so I have seen it a total of five times in less than one month. Some of you might say I have no life but believe me you have NO life if you don't see this masterpiece. At the dress rehearsal, the director, Cathy Downes, came out and said the usual 'Hi and Welcome' plus an explanation about how a few things hadn't been included because it is has been a massive show to put together and from what I saw massive is an understatement!

One thing to know about this portrayal of Rocky at the Court Theatre is the colourful nature of it especially the costumes; Paul Jenden, the costume designer (who is also performing in Ballet Bites /Court 2) has created some truly lavish and visually impeccable costumes which suit the show down to a fine art … from the orange and green hair of the Phantoms to the glitter and zebra striped sequins of Frank-n-Furter. It all slams together beautifully along with the stunning set created by Tony Geddes which takes up the entire stage, wings, back wall and aisles. It has three different levels and many more entrance ways, creating an array of different rooms which are actually on the same set- and the dirty dungy look collides with the colourful costumes perfectly/

Lighting is actually worth another mention too because Giles Tanner's creation of Rocky Horror could just have been what everyone was expecting … a lot of dim lights … reds and greens … but it's not. The lighting plot and creation is very, very busy especially during Time Warp and The Floor Show (and go the strobe lighting).

Of course though without the cast there would really be no show and it is big ups to every single one of them. Ross Gumbley as the Narrator is simply perfect and, I must say, has the very difficult job of keeping an audience under control with his very funny narration. George Henare was one of the last people who I would expect to play Frank and to be honest (sorry George if you are reading this), I couldn't see him pulling it off- but I was wrong! Tim Curry, Tim Curry who, is all I got to say on that one. And, of course, the duo of Riff Raff and Magenta played by Teodor Surcel and Rima Te Wiata was also brilliant. Teodor pulled off Riff Raff amazingly and Rima you just fell in love with because there is just something there which makes you go YES! But who could forget the two young lovers Brad and Janet? Just like the rest of the cast they simply blow you away with their skills - their dancing, acting, singing and general stage presence and while I'm listing the cast and saying how awesome they are, Ali Harper who was Maria in the Sound of Music is no longer Maria and if she was you'd have to be worried for poor Liezel! They say the sign of a true actor is being able to do anything … well, in that case Ali Harper is just that because you don't get much different than Maria and Columbia. Eddie and Dr. Scott - although they're the same person you'd never guess it and these two characters are also as good as the next dance number!

There is, however, a group of people in it who do miss a mention a lot of the time and they are the Phantoms (chorus). During one of the shows I went to, I focused just on them when they were on the stage and realised that Sandra Rasmussen has created some very stunning dance numbers with these guys which left me feeling exhausted.

This review has pretty much been a massive compliment splurge to all those involved but the problem is this show is nothing less than perfect- Rocky Horror at the Court Theatre doesn't have the mega million dollar budget of Broadway, let alone the room for millions of sets which you think it would need but this production has proved it's not necessary. To me Broadway can keep its millions and its sets and lights- stuff Broadway. My grandmother went to see Rocky at the Court and she said it could stand up to any Broadway stage and it would fit in perfectly keeping everything the same. So it's big ups to the Court for creating something amazing, visually stunning and just perfection for your ears. This is a must for every person who has heard of The Rocky Horror Picture show- and even if ya haven't, this is a great place to start!

Court TheatreWell done to everyone involved - every time I have seen it you have rocked that house. Congratulations!

P.S. And this comment from Tim …

Just finished reading your Review of Rocky Horror at the Court. I have seen it a few times and most of the nights when people called out comments they were quickly told to shhh by the rest of the audience so the reviewer's remark about it being ok to shout arsehole when brad is said is kinda not a good thing. Maybe it was different though on opening night but the actors will signal if you can join in… especially in their own little way. Just thought you should know!