Review: The Rocky Horror Show – 50th Anniversary Tour, New Theatre, Cardiff

The Rocky Horror Show descends on Cardiff’s New Theatre once again, and we have two reviews from our two Rocky Horror Fans – well, it is the show’s 50th anniversary – so why not?

Thomas Howells writes:

The Rocky Horror Show, which returns to Cardiff’s New Theatre this week, boasts a set that is both simple and effective, with a large area as its centrepiece. This area serves as the inside of Dr Frank-N-Furter’s castle and is surrounded by a few smaller set pieces that are used to create various scenes throughout the show. The set is well-lit, with lighting used to create different moods and atmospheres, with darker, moodier lighting for scenes in the castle and brighter, more cheerful lighting for scenes in the laboratory.

The set is well-designed and fits perfectly with the tone of the show. It is well-executed, with actors using the set to their advantage and moving fluidly around it to create dynamic and interesting scenes. For example, during the song “Sweet Transvestite,” Dr Frank-N-Furter dances around the set, using the different set pieces to create a sense of movement and excitement. The set is a key part of the immersive experience that Rocky Horror is known for, transporting the audience to the world of the show, while helping to create a truly unforgettable theatrical experience.

A scene from The Rocky Horror Show. Photo: David Freeman

The Rocky Horror Show has countless impressive song and dance numbers, delivered flawlessly by a cast that clearly revels in their roles. Their movements are fluid, and their voices are dynamic, adding excitement to the show. More than just entertainment, the songs serve to reveal the characters’ personalities, thoughts, and feelings, as well as drive the plot forward. With catchy tunes that stick in the audience’s heads and an invitation to join in the singing and dancing, the show is sure to create a participatory and unforgettable experience. The songs are a critical component in bringing the immersive world of Rocky Horror to life, both stimulating visually and aurally to transport the audience into its universe.

Charlie Ingles, the musical director of the 2023 Rocky Horror Tour, deserves high praise for bringing the eclectic mix of rock, pop, and classical music to life with a tight band and impressive vocals. The well-balanced sound and clear, easy-to-hear vocals are crucial to the show’s deserved success, as the music is a key element of the experience. Ingles’ excellent work ensures that the music is both enjoyable and memorable, adding to the show’s unique atmosphere.

The cast of the 2023 Rocky Horror Tour is equally exceptional, with each actor bringing their own take on their role. Stephen Webb steals the show as the charismatic and energetic Dr Frank-N-Furter, while Haley Flaherty shines as the vulnerable and innocent Janet as she’s very experienced in her role. Richard Meek’s uptight Brad and Kristian Lavercombe’s over-the-top Riff Raff are perfectly suited to their roles, and Lauren Ingram brings a sense of fun and energy to Columbia. Ben Westhead’s portrayal of Rocky is full of wonder and innocence. The ensemble cast is also noteworthy for their strong support of the leads. Their energetic performances and infectious joy make the show a delight to watch and are integral to its success!

The Rocky Horror Show returns to Cardiff’s New Theatre for its 50th anniversary.

Rachel Howells writes:

While a lot of people are travelling back from their Easter Break, the New Theatre was full of people in various outfits ready for the opening night of The Rocky Horror Show.  Opening a show on Easter Monday can’t be easy but I am certain the excitement in the auditorium before the show filtered through to the cast backstage.

The show follows the story of Brad and Janet, two squeaky clean college kids, when by twist of fate, their car breaks down outside a creepy mansion whilst on their way to visit their former college professor, they meet the charismatic Dr Frank’n’Furter. It is an adventure they’ll never forget, filled with fun, frolics, frocks, and frivolity.

Richard Meek is by far my most favourite Brad and seems perfectly cast next to Haley Flaherty who reprises the role of Janet.  Richard brings a nerdy strength to the character.

A scene from The Rocky Horror Show. Photo: David Freeman

Stephen Webb excels as Frank giving a very moving performance especially during the song I’m Going Home.

Kristian Lavercombe reprises his role as Riff Raff, who, following more than 2000 performances around the world, manages to keep the character fresh and seems to be enjoying his time on stage.  Darcy Finden who made her professional debut last year as one of the Phantoms, plays the role of Columbia with maturity.

The band, under the musical direction of Charlie Ingles delighted with a superb sound that filled the auditorium.  The lighting design from Nick Richings was outstanding, it made the auditorium feel like a discotheque in some scenes. My one complaint is that The Rocky Horror Show is too short.  It’s such a brilliant night out it’s a real shame that the show is over so quickly. It is, however, a guaranteed party, combining science-fiction, horror, comedy and music while encouraging audience participation – meaning, of course, getting dressed-up in the most outrageous fancy dress! Let’s Do the Time-Warp Again!

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