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Prepare for a night of fun, frolics and frivolity

Newcastle Evening Chronicle (Feb 2013)

Review: The Rocky Horror Show at the Sunderland Empire

20 Feb 2013 15:03

Young reviewer Paul Wallace does the Time Warp down to Sunderland Empire to catch The Rocky Horror Show, which plays there until Saturday

Even before the curtain rises you are enthralled in the moment, with diehard fans dressed for the occasion in vivacious outfits and stilettos, along with more than the usual share of exposed flesh.

The excitement and expectation is palpable, and no one is disappointed.

Ben Forster (of Jesus Christ Superstar fame) and Roxanne Pallet (Emmerdale) captivate the audience from the off.

They share a chemistry that radiates from the stage along with their incredible voices, which are powerful in lively, upbeat songs that touch every audience member.

The narrative is snappy, fun and, as one should expect when walking in, balancing on the edge of a good dose of rambunctiousness.

The tremendously detailed set pieces, the flawless hair and make-up, and the costumes – of the little, skimpy bits there is of them – all add to the nature of the production.

But it is Philip Franks that truly embodies the nature of the show as the narrator. Every subtle nuance of his performance  gets a reaction from the audience. His timing is perfect and gets a good majority of the laughs from core fans, who he interacts with easily and who provide him with brilliant improvisation moments that are truly his and no one else’s.

Andrew Ahern (standing in for Oliver Thornton) owns the stage as Frank-N-Furter. He embodies the character and lashes a smile across every face, giving a quite appropriate out-of-this-world performance.

Undoubtedly a fan favourite, and making fans of newcomers, he shares inside jokes with the enthusiasts in the front row, interacting with them as if they are old friends reunited.

His flirtatious interactions with many of the cast are truly hilarious, including his scenes with Rocky, played by Rhydian (X Factor), who shows strength and dexterity that proves his determination and love of what he does, and everyone in the audience, especially those that enjoy the famous gold pants of his character, appreciates that.

The cast and crew do not fail to show why The Rocky Horror Show will celebrate its 40th anniversary in June.

Everyone’s love of the production is contagious, from Kristian Lavercombe – Riff Raff – who energetically gives the first performance of The Time Warp, to Ceris Hine – Columbia – whose vocal range is outstanding.

No one will be disappointed; prepare for a night of fun, frolics and frivolity and the odd few (an understatement) bare legs.