Sunderland Empire – until 13th January 2024
Reviewed by Alex Sykes
There are few occasions in life where you can go out in a maids outfit and be one of the most normally dressed people in the venue but when seeing Rocky Horror Show it seems almost compulsory, as more people were dressed up than were not, even on a cold Monday night in January.
The opening number, Science Fiction/Double Feature is sung by Suzie McAdam, in her role as the Usherette, and the audience sang along, although a little hesitant at first. McAdam also deserves a mention for how quickly she managed to get changed at the end of the show from the Usherette outfit back into the Magenta outfit. Joe McFadden is brilliant in his role as the narrator as he receives the most heckles from from the audience but responds to them brilliantly, whether or not these replies are scripted remains unknown but the timings and the responses are spot on, especially when McFadden says that being the narrator is a career highlight, unlike when he was in Heartbeat and it took him a year to learn to ride the police motorbike.
Sweet and innocent Brad and Janet are played by Richard Meek and Haley Flaherty who have amazing on stage chemistry. The pair also take the heckles well, although at times you could tell the pair were trying not to laugh, especially during the scene with the cocktail shaker. Joe Allen brings both Eddie and Dr. Scott to life and performs both parts well. Ben Westhead is wonderful in his role of Rocky and Darcy Finden tap dances her way into the role of Columbia, although the role should be bigger as her talents are not used as well as they should be. Stars of the show though are Stephen Webb and Kristian Lavercombe who play Frank N. Furter and Riff Raff respectively. The pair have a brilliant connection and use each other to work out how to play the scene, and Lavercombe has racked up over 2000 performances as Riff Raff, more than any other actor in the role
All in all a brilliant night out which would make Richard O’Brien proud and will make fans of the Rocky Horror Show keep coming back to do the Time Warp again and again.