iota2008
Ohhh Rocky!
Opening Star City Sydney February 12 2008 - Transferred to Melbourne September 12 2008

Programme Cover

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Poster

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Review Bryce Hallett, reviewer
February 11, 2008

A rock musical hatched in the gender-bending '70s and parodying sci-fi and horror movies of the '50s was never going to remain liberating or dangerous. How could it? After all, a narcissistic transvestite in fishnet stockings barely raises an eyebrow in today's world of political sex scandals, the cult of celebrity and TV makeover shows cast in the mould of the Frankenstein myth.

But the director Gale Edwards (The Boy From Oz, Sweeney Todd) has created a full-throttle revival of Richard O'Brien's once-radical show that is anything but creaky or stale. The passionately camp and atmospheric staging is as flash as it is trashy, with appealing designs by Dale Ferguson (set) and Julie Lynch (costumes).

iOTA is sensational as the tireless and salacious predator Frank-N-Furter. He is joined in the "hunting lodge for rich weirdos" by a remarkably experienced and talented cast, including the inimitable Paul Capsis, who shines as Riff-Raff, Tamsin Carroll as Magenta, Michael Cormick as Eddie and the outstanding Sharon Millerchip as Columbia. The singing is exceptional.

The story, though almost threadbare, is strong on picture-palace ambience and gives plenty of scope for the protagonist's indulgences and rampant sex drive without obliterating the spiritual void at the core of Frank's warped fantasies and creation. Despite the cartoonish limitations, the performers play to their strengths.

This incarnation of The Rocky Horror Show is worth seeing for the fantastically fearless iOTA alone. The exhilaration, vocal power and psychological detail of his energy-to-burn portrayal in Hedwig And The Angry Inch has found an outlet in Frank.

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS

Book, Music & Lyrics by Richard O'Brien
Original Music and Arrangements by Richard Hartley
Directed by GALE EDWARDS

Production Design - DALE FERGUSON
Costumes - JULIE LYNCH  Choreographer - JOHN O'CONNELL
Musical Director - LUKE HUNTER
Lighting - DAMIEN COOPER
Sound Designer - MICHAEL WATERS

Produced by Paul Dainty and Howard Panter

 

Principal Cast:
Dr. Frank N. Furter: iOTA
Janet Weiss: Kellie Rhode
Brad Majors: Andrew Bevis
The Usherette/Magenta Tamsin Carroll
Riff Raff: Paul Capsis
Columbia: Sharon Millerchip
Eddie/Dr. Scott: Michael Cormick
The Narrator: John Waters/Derryn Hinch/Gretel Killeen
Rocky Horror: Simon Farrow

 

 

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Time hasn't warped Rocky Horror charm

 

MANY turned up last night to do the time warp again, some were time warp virgins.

Let's hope they don't hate themselves this morning, having been comprehensively ravished by cabaret star iOTA as Dr Frank-N-Furter, the high-heeled, fishnet-stockinged Transylvanian transvestite who seems to have discovered the secret of eternal youth.

Well, he is from another planet, the planet Transexual.

 

 

The Rocky Horror Show has rarely been out of view since its debut in London 35 years ago. If there's not a late-night screening of the 1975 film there's a production either running or being planned. What started out as grungy fringe revue turned into a full-blown theatrical cult, followed by the middle years of transformation into slightly naughty family entertainment.

Now, thankfully, the filth is back, albeit tucked into a bouquet of colour riotous enough to make a drag queen blush.

Gale Edwards's new production opened last night in Sydney in front of a glittering audience containing Rocky Horror author Richard O'Brien, comedian Chris Lilley, actor Rose Byrne, Wiggle Sam Moran having a grown-up moment and, most affectingly, the original Sydney Riff-Raff, Sal Sharah.

It's pointless comparing this wonderful gothic rock 'n' roll circus with the legendary 1974 Sydney production, staged in a rundown Glebe theatre, that made a huge star of Reg Livermore. The times were different and the sexual transgressions much more, well, transgressive. Don't we all do this stuff now?

Or maybe not. The naive will always be with us, and that healthy couple Brad and Janet have a journey of sensual discovery that still has charm and humour.

The songs are still fresh and funny and come along every few minutes, but the entrancing discovery is that through the imaginations of Edwards, designers Dale Ferguson, Julie Lynch and Damien Cooper, Rocky Horror is made anew.

It might not be Ibsen, but it's exhilarating.

The whole cast is splendid - an opinion seconded by O'Brien last night - but above all is iOTA, whose pan-sexual charisma is the linchpin. He has stellar support from stage veterans Paul Capsis as Riff Raff, Tamsin Carroll as Magenta and Sharon Millerchip as Columbia.

The evening finished with O'Brien, who keeps a close eye on the show's fortunes and incarnations, leaping on to the stage during the encore to do the time warp - again.

Despite favourable reviews and packed houses, this was Rocky Horror trying hard to be relevent and shocking, but coming off as an overcrowded mess.

Gale Edwards had the entire cast on stage for every number, and at her tasteless best, had Frank riding a winged penis. Although a talented cast, they couldn't shine through such a muddled piece of over-production. Bar service and an interval only helped to make the show more annoying. Despite the P.R., O'Brien was less than pleased with this fiasco. Australians are notorious for confusing clever with over-coloured. iOta copied Tim Curry, yet again, but within the confines of every aspect being overblown. The concept, intent, style, homages, characterisations and setting of The Rocky Horror Show, even the dialogue and song order, no longer match the original script. A hyper version of the film, without any "experience". Glossy, beautiful, shiny and a million miles from the "theatre under demolition" crumbling, dirty, lurid, last dying throws of an abandoned cinema, it was.

Entertaining to a crowd, who never saw it how it was meant to be, and who's only reference is the motion picture. Anyone who saw the show in it's original form, will be surprised that this passes as the same show. For those who saw Abineri as the beginning of the end, this is what the end looks like! From now on it will be a flashy dress-up party. Rocky has been neutered, rolled in glitter, and served with alcohol.

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The cast pose with O'Brien

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Article supplied by Jon Fabian

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Dale Ferguson's Set Design

For the Melbourne leg of the tour, the Comedy Theatre was given an exterior make-over by being wrapped in an image.

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Courtesy of Frank Van Straten

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