Half a century on, the Rocky Horror Show remains a delightful, bizarre and engaging romp that encourages audience participation.
Opening night of the 50th anniversary Melbourne production saw plenty of “shout outs” from enthusiastic patrons, acknowledged by narrator Myf Warhurst.
It tells the story of an innocent, newly engaged virgin couple – Brad Majors (Ethan Jones) and Janet Weiss (Deirdre Khoo) – caught at night in the middle of nowhere when their car breaks down.
Wet and weary, they are let into a nearby castle, the home of mad, alien transvestite scientist Dr Frank-N-Furter (Jason Donovan), by his “servant” Riff Raff (Henry Rollo).
The pair has no idea what they are in for.
In front of them, Dr Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest “creation”, a muscle man, a perfect physical specimen named Rocky (Loredo Malcolm).
Before the night is over, Brad and Janet will have been pleasured like never before.
Meanwhile, intent on returning to the planet Transexual in the galaxy of Transylvania, Riff Raff and his sister Magenta (Stellar Perry) give the doctor his comeuppance.
The Rocky Horror dialogue is a mind-bending hoot.
Ear-pleasing numbers, such as The Time Warp, Sweet Transvestite and Science Fiction, continue to knock the show out of the park. They were winners back then and are still.
We are so familiar with the words and tunes that attending the Rocky Horror Show is like visiting a favourite aunt and looking forward to a double helping of dessert.
Stellar Perry is my pick of the performers. She is magnificent in the dual roles of the usherette and Magenta, nailing both. I couldn’t get enough of her.
Henry Rollo revels as Riff Raff, while the sweet-voiced Deirdre Khoo impresses as Janet. The vocal proclivity of Ethan Jones (such great timbre) is another highlight.
Jason Donovan milks Frank-N-Furter for all his worth. The scenes involving him “deflowering” Janet and, then, Brad and quite something to behold.
With bulging pecs, Loredo Malcolm makes his mark as Rocky and Darcey Eagle gives her all as the doctor’s devoted underling, Columbia.
Ellis Dolan looms large as Eddie and Dr Scott.
As the narrator, Myf Warhurst endears herself with her reactions to audience “intervention”.
The lively five-piece band is a pleasure to listen to, as Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show remains a benchmark of fun times.
It is pure, unadulterated entertainment – a great way to give over to the “darker side” for 100 minutes (plus interval) It is playing at the Athenaeum Theatre until 23rd July, 2023.
Review by Alex First. Photography by Daniel Boud