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The Rocky Horror Show
Sunday-Star Times Review 17 November 2002




Rocky Horror Love Affair Sashays On

Directed by Simon Prast, Auckland Theatre Company
Sky City Theatre until December 14
Reviewer:  Gilbert Wong

Damn it, Janet, can it really be 30 years since Frank'n'furter first strode the stage in fishnets and stilettos?  I'm afraid so, Brad.

Three decades on, we still love it.

New Zealand's best cult export Richard O'Brien was a very bored Hamilton teenager.

He later distilled adolescent longing for excitement, adventure and sex, any sex.  He mixed in kitsch from B-grade movies that had rotted his mind and added rock'n'roll to create a classic catchier than anything Andrew Lloyd Webber could hum.

Crowd-pleasing spectacle is Simon Prast's forte and here he knows he must give in to the easy pleasures of the tunes and the joy of being lewd.

The death of Kevin Smith, who was to play Frank'n'furter, cast an inevitable pall.  But replacement Joel Tobeck has the requisite bad boy sexiness that lets him play Frank to his trannie best, all pout and sashay, a sexual predator without peer.  This is a great cast.  Michael Hurst's Riff Raff capers maniacally, Sophia Hawthorne is always worth watching and Mikey Havoc makes his stage debut in the dual roles of Eddie and Dr Scott.

Strangely, he's better as curmudgeonly ol' Doc Scott.  Havoc was hampered, as were several of the cast, by a muddy sound mix that did the weaker singers no favours.

The notable exceptions were Roy Snow in great voice as Brad and Ainslie Allen as Columbia.  Craig Parker's Man in Black narrator showed great comic timing.

John Parker's set was never distracting and always elegant, echoing bad sci-fi and the iris of a movie camera closing to switch scenes.

The challenge for Prast was to make Rocky Horror genuine theatre rather than amusing pastiche with great songs.  After a slightly rocky start, the second half really got there.  By the time Tobeck sings the lovely "Don't Dream it, be it", the audience was in this production's hands and justly so.

Yep, it's time to do the time warp again.

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