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An outrageous evening of fun

Dani Harmer as Janet
Dani Harmer as Janet

The Rocky Horror Show

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

An evening at the theatre watching the Rocky Horror Show is unlike any other.

For starters, audience members turn up sporting weird and wonderful outfits, from corsets and suspenders to bloodstained surgical aprons.

Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff
Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff

And they also play a large part in the show itself, shouting out scripted heckles, waving glow sticks during the song There's a light (Over At The Frankenstein Place), and, of course, joining in the Time Warp dance.

It has been 40 years since Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show made its stage debut, but the musical hasn't lost any of its ability to shock and delight.

This anniversary production stars Dani Harmer (Tracy Beaker, Strictly Come Dancing 2012) as Janet, and Ben Forster (winner of ITV talent show Superstar) as Brad, the innocent college kids whose car breaks down outside a mysterious old castle, where they encounter transvestite Dr Frank N Furter, his “perfect” creation Rocky, and other wacky characters.

Dani may be best known as a straight actress, but she has a fantastic singing voice, demonstrated particularly during her solo Touch Me, in which she also has to strip and seduce Rocky while dancing and singing.

Ben also has a spectacular voice, and the pair make a superb team, getting the show off to a great start with their tongue-in-cheek number Damn It, Janet.

They are ably backed by a fantastic supporting cast, particularly Christopher Luscombe as the Narrator, who coped admirably with the audience heckles, often hitting back with his own sharp one-liners.

Oliver Thornton as Frank N Furter
Oliver Thornton as Frank N Furter

But the real star of the show is Oliver Thornton as transvestite Dr Frank 'n' Furter.

From the moment he confidently struts out in his high heels, wearing heavy make-up, a woman's wig and long cloak - later removed to reveal a corset and suspenders - he owns the stage.

It is a demanding role, as Dr Frank is a completely bonkers mix of sexual predator and maniacal professor, but Oliver copes effortlessly with the challenge, oozing confidence and charm while also showing off his impressive vocal talents - and physique.

The plot of the Rocky Horror Show is as mad as its characters, but somehow it works, thanks to a tongue-in-cheek tone which makes very raunchy references and onstage antics seem somehow cheeky rather than offensive.

Another major factor is its great score, packed with catchy songs which you will be humming long after you leave the theatre.

Thanks to the audience participation and the cast's ad-libs, the show also has an informal, friendly atmosphere, resulting in almost the entire audience getting on their feet at the end of the night and dancing to the Time Warp - quite tricky in the small space behind a row of seats.

Whether you are a Rocky Horror virgin or a veteran, this show's high production values and spectacular cast make it a must-see.

The Rocky Horror Show is at the Marlowe Theatre until Saturday, August 17. Tickets from £15. Call 01227 787787 or click here.

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