REVIEW: Rocky Horror Show at the Sheffield Lyceum

By Adele Forrest | 19/02/2019

REVIEW: Rocky Horror Show at the Sheffield Lyceum
Ben Adams and Joanne Clifton as Brad and Janet

RICHARD O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show proved just as R-rated and raucous as ever at last night’s opening in Sheffield.

The ushers had their work cut out trying to contain the crowd at times — I hardly dare to think what a weekend performance is like!

Its combination of wild cross-dressing campness, catchy songs and the most iconic dance routine in musical history — the Time Warp — ensures it always pulls in a colourful crowd. 

Anyone who hasn’t seen the Rocky Horror Show is in for a treat — even before curtain up. 

The alternative pantomime has to be the only musical which audience members (male and female) turn up in their underwear for — think Carry On meets Hallowe’en — and not even a chilly February night deterred folks yesterday.

Audience participation before, during and after plays a huge role throughout the evening — and before last night I’d never seen an audience member get up dancing to a musical’s opening song.

The cult classic, which started life in a tiny upstairs theatre in London in 1973, written by O’Brien (Yes, that bloke from the Crystal Maze) still manages to maintain an underground, alternative vibe despite its big name stars.

Strictly Come Dancing winner and ballroom champion Joanne Clifton plays innocent Janet while Ben Adams, of A1 boyband fame, plays her geeky fiancé Brad.

The two were last on the Lyceum stage just a few months back starring alongside each other in Flashdance the Musical, but this latest role is more of a test of their acting and comedic abilities.

Their squeaky-clean real-life personas make them the ideal leads to play the virginal Brad and Janet, who take shelter at the home of a mad transvestite scientist Dr Frank N Furter (Stephen Webb).

As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet encounter a house full of madcap, sexually-charged characters including Frank N Furter’s home-made creation — muscleman Rocky, played by skilled acrobat gymnast Callum Evans (below).

Any actor taking on the role of suspender-wearing Frank N Furter has huge stilettos to fill — but Webb went down a storm with the crowd as the brash and ballsy alien transvestite.

Overseeing proceedings is Philip Franks as the outstanding narrator, who is at his best when he’s cheekily riffing with the audience and ad-libbing. Even the cast struggled to disguise their laughs as Franks poked and prodded fun at them, even telling northern lass Clifton: “Grimsby can’t save you now,” as her body trembled with stifled hysterics.

The liberating 90-minute show, exploring sexuality and gender, is still empowering audiences 40 years on from its premiere — catch it in Sheffield until Saturday, if you dare!