Palace Theatre, Manchester

On the 19th June 1973 a musical was given it's première in the Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre. No-one would have predicted then, that forty years later it would be a global phenomenon. The 40th anniversary tour is in Manchester for this special week and is determined to celebrate in true Rocky style.

Director Christopher Luscombe has taken this chance to create a version of Rocky Horror which should appeal to the hardcore fans while encouraging the conversion of the innocent. He mostly succeeds.

Oliver Thornton's Frank-N-Furter has the voice and presence to carry off the iconic role with aplomb, but there are moments when it seems all surface acting and no belief, especially in parts of the first act.

Dani Harmer's Janet is cute and has a good voice while Sam Attwater's Brad loses out in comparison despite working hard. He never seems quite comfortable in the role.

Kristian Lavercombe (Riff-Raff), Abigail Jaye (Magenta) and Ceris Hine (Columbia) all put in good, but not outstanding performances, while Henry Davis' Rocky seems overshadowed by both Frank and Brad.

However Philip Frank's Narrator is brilliant in his ability to handle whatever the audience throw at him verbally. He works in a few Mancunian references but his general affability never falters in the face of the heckling.

Set Designer Hugh Durrant has obviously been constricted by the fact that this is a touring production, with sets seeming simplified and small, Rocky's birth scene being especially disappointing.

For it's 40th anniversary, The Rocky Horror Show deserved a show which sparkled both in performance and visualisation, unfortunately although good in so many ways, this show lacks that final spark to reach "It's astounding!".

- Helen Jones