This review was from the New Zealand Herald, Nov. 18, 2002:
The Rocky Horror Show at the Sky City Theatre
18.11.2002 - By MICHELE HEWITSON
The retro musical is a truly amazing phenomenon, especially when you consider
that the form itself is now retro - the big-bang productions are passe.
That The Rocky Horror Show, 30 years after it began its strange cultish
relationship with audiences, should still transfix with its silly story of what
happens when innocent sexuality meets a bunch of committed copulators in
fishnets should be beyond amazing.
But The Rocky Horror Show was born retro: it came from the 1950s of bad sci-fi
films, from Flash Gordon and It Came From Outer Space.
And from the inner space that was the strange imagination of a New Zealand kid
called Richard O'Brien, who seems to have done his growing-up in little movie
theatres in a farming community.
Part of the reason for its enduring, and endearing, success is that Rocky Horror
out-kitsches its kitsch influences while also mercilessly taking the mickey out of
the big-bang musical.
The catch is that in refusing to take itself seriously, a production of The Rocky
Horror has to play it straight - like all good farce.
The Auckland Theatre Company's production, under the direction of Simon Prast,
gets the big bang bang on.
Designer John Parker's skewed take on gothic-meets-early-science-fiction is
It is whiz-bang with whistles-on wizardry. Or rocketry - when there is alien lift-off,
the entire theatre is caught in the after-blast.
There are some updated references. A doorbell plays a snippet from Close
Encounters of the Third Kind. Craig Parker as the narrator (a role he will alternate
with Oliver Driver) is Matrix-suave, a wry seen-it-all-before commentator who
picks his way through the action with elegant ease.
And in Joel Tobeck's Frank 'N' Furter there is a sly and clever reference to that ad
he does on the telly where he plays himself as a series of shop assistants -
including a pearl-wearing lady assistant.
His Frank'N' Furter is a marvellous creation. In his corset and fishnets - and, yes,
pearls - Tobeck is louche and lithe. He is a sinewy feline predator, but one who
stomps rather than struts, and never hams it up, in his platform shoes.
Tobeck was brought in to play the role after the death of Kevin Smith earlier this
year, and his casting has proved an inspired choice.
Tobeck can even carry a tune, and what's more, you can hear what he's singing -
most of the time.
Which brings us to the problem with the production. In a toss-up between actors
who can sing a bit and singers who can act a bit, The Rocky Horror Show
demands the former.
But it also depends on a sound mix which lets an audience hear the words. With
the exception of the very good Roy Snow as the very assured Brad (a big ask
when you spend much of the night wearing Y-fronts), who you can hear all of the
time, the sound was subterranean.
Mikey Havoc, as Eddie/Dr Scott may have cut a lovely figure of a monster ego
out of control (more inspired casting) with an axe through his head, but it was a
pity you couldn't hear a word he said/sang.
If ATC can sort the sound out - and it must - it will have a show which is not just
a entertaining encounter of a very strange kind, but a truly amazing production.
ęCopyright 2002, NZ Herald