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The Rocky Horror Show (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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There can be very few people who don't know The Rocky Horror Show, at least from the movie, but experiencing the stage show is much more invigorating. From the usherette's opening number to the cleaner's reprise, this is rock and roll musical at its best and it doesn't matter that it's nearly forty years old; it is timeless.

This is the story of young sweethearts Brad (Richard Meeks) and Janet (Haley Flaherty) who get caught out by a puncture and seek help at a local castle, only to find out that all is not what it might seem. Their host, the mysterious Frank ' N' Furter (David Bedella) is determined to corrupt their innocence.

Director Christopher Luscombe has brought together a skilled cast and most roles are well played. However Stuart Ellis' as Riff Raff plays the role as a poor imitation of Richard O'Brien rather than making it his own. Bedella's Frankie is strong, vampish and machiavellian but lacked that touch of vulnerability. Julian Essex-Spurrier is a beautifully bodied Rocky but he is more than window dressing as he has a great voice to carry off his numbers.

The real surprise of the evening, though, is Ainsley Harriott as the Narrator. With strong delivery and an ability to respond to the audience participation, he is truly brilliant.

With an excellent five piece band under the musical direction of Iain Vince-Gatt, and clever staging by Set Designer Janet Bird, the show flows smoothly if at times too fast under Luscombe's direction.

Rocky remains a show not for the faint-hearted or easily shocked: it is rude, crude but always funny. For a wild night's entertainment, this is the show to see.

- Helen Jones


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