A bunch of us headed out to see the latest production of the Rocky Horror Show last night at the Star Theatre, at the Star City Casino here in Sydney. I was feeling a bit flat and unwell, but I soon perked up once we got into the theatre. I'm a huge fan of Rocky Horror and I've seen several versions of the stage show and the movie countless times. (Really, I lost count somewhere after 60 times.) I hadn't been in the Star Theatre before and it's an unusually wide but shallow auditorium, making it ideal for cabaret style shows.
The first pleasant surprise was a roaming bunch of very sexy male and female 'phantoms', climbing over seats, sipping from people's drinks, ruffling hair, sitting in the laps of anyone remotely conservative looking, and even taking a bite from someone's icecream. The 'Transylvanians' from the film (which aren't in the original stage production) have been recast as 'phantoms' in this production, dressed as a sort of goth/vintage burlesque collection of archetypes (sailor boy, goth Lolita, cub scout etc). They serve as chorus, dancers and scene arrangers. One particularly sexy boy with abs of steel, a sailor in white pvc hot pants, saw that Nat & Linda were dressed up for the show in fishnets and boas and came and crawled over the three of us. A nice start to the show!
I'd love to say I 100% loved the show, but I didn't. Let's say 90%. I enjoyed it very much, but I didn't agree with some of the choices the director made. She was probably aiming for a high energy show, which we definately got, but it was also kind of shrill. Everyone's dialogue was pitched at full volume, with some of the female performers climbing the scales to sounds only dogs can hear. What it did was rob the show of light and shade. Even some of the quieter moments, some of the narrator's exposition for example, were declaimed and shouted at full volume. All the cast were miked so it wasn't a question of projection. I had a few of the teeth gritting/sphincter clenching moments that usually only come from shrieking toddlers in supermarkets.
Anyhoo. That was really my only beef with it. iOta, who I saw as Hedwig in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" a bunch of times, was fabulous as Frank-N-Furter. I LOVED this Columbia, who's 'Betty Boop' style New Yoyk accent was a fun addition. Magenta did not work for me at all, even though she was played by a very well respected musical theatre actress. In general the cast were fantastic though, the musical numbers were excellent, and the design was fabulous. I like that they played around with the look of the show without going so far away from it that it lost its feel.
The theatre has come under some criticism for discouraging people to get up and dance and participate, so it does seem like a very well behaved crowd for Rocky Horror. But the encore was a reprise of "The Time Warp" where everyone was encouraged out of their seats, so I got my chance to take that Jump To The Left, closely followed by the Step To The Right after all!