Glitter tailcoats to the left, top hats to the right, and many knees in fishnet tights ready to be brought in tight. This must be the Rocky Horror Show audience.
No other show in the world attracts audiences with such an array of alternative clothing choices. And here I am among them, feeling like a llama amongst a pride of lions, in jeans and a t-shirt.
Up until the moment I joined the flock of excitable hen-do’s outside of the Kings Theatre on opening night, not being a fan of the Rocky Horror Show was something I took pride in. To me, the extent of Richard O’brien’s career was merely a crystal-filled maze on Challenge TV, and I preferred life that way.
One evening when I was barely a teenager, my musical-loving mother arranged my siblings and I around the television in semi-circle formation, assuring us that what we were about to witness – the 1975 original movie production of Rocky starring Tim Curry as Frank-N-Furter – was going to change our lives.
It did change my life. I developed a deep-rooted anxiety for ever driving in the rain for fear that I, too, broke down and ended up barely clothed, dancing in the foyer of some creepy swingers mansion like innocent Brad and Janet. I also couldn’t shake the knock to my self confidence because, let’s face it, have you seen Tim Curry in a pair of stilettos?
No other show demands such a level of audience participation. On the night I attended, this role was solely fulfilled by one particularly excitable party in the front row. The group were so thorough with their responses – hollering at every single opening – that both our Narrator (Norman Pace) and Riff Raff (Kristian Lavercombe) broke character repeatedly to giggle and gawk at their commitment to the show. It was wonderful.
Although the story itself is incredibly far-fetched, the spectacle was electrifying. Every big music number was absolutely aflame with colour, dancing and gymnastic excellence. The audience were up on their feet for the ‘Time Warp’ and, in true Scottish fashion, ready with their phone lights and waving forearms for the slow bits. I must say, though: I’m still not sure how the first floor balcony of the Kings survived a further six performances. Talk about motion sickness…
Diana Vickers – who we last met as an X-Factor finalist many moons ago and is now a reformed fashion designer – excels in the role of innocent and frigid Janet. (It appears she is also a theatre star now, too.) Vickers has traded her signature airy embouchure for a solid set of mezzo soprano pipes in preparation for the role, which perfectly suit pure Janet.
Her opposite, Brad (played by Richard Meek), is a great ol’ hunk of talented attractiveness. Meek’s rendition of the show-exclusive Once in a While was absolutely breath-taking – enough to silence the rowdy audience for four minutes.
The show is, of course, stolen by Frank-N-Furter, portrayed by Liam Tamne. His prominent stage presence and impeccable comedic timing make this one of the most memorable roles in the entire performance.
Sassiness, over-bearing confidence and borderline insanity are Frank-N-Furter’s most essential characteristics and Tamne captured all of these in his portrayal. Tamne’s slender frame and jaw-dropping pins also make him physically perfect for this role. He was simply fabulous and a joy to watch.
However, it wouldn’t be the Rocky Horror Show without a Rocky would it?
Now, our Rocky – Frank-N-Furter’s perfect, genetically engineered creation – is portrayed by human muscle Dominic Andersen. I speak for the entire theatre when I tell you that Andersen is god-like in appearance. Mesmerising even. How someone can be so physically fit and talented is beyond my understanding, and despite not having Rocky’s traditional blonde hair he is still instantly recognisable when he emerges from the shadows like the bronzed angel that he is.
In summary, watching it now as an adult I can confirm that the Rocky Horror Show is far less traumatising when you have:
- A rowdy hen-party making the cast laugh
- A whole theatre’s-worth of people around you doing the ‘Time Warp’ – with glow sticks
- An appreciation for Dominic Andersen in those signature y-fronts.