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Richard O’ Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is a riotous night of rock ‘n’ roll fun at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley


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I first saw the Rocky Horror Show at university. Since then, I’ve been to every UK tour, a midnight film screening and a shadowcast performance in Los Angeles. I’ve even got a line from the show tattooed on my body.

It’s safe to say, I’m a big fan.

The cast of the Rocky Horror Show opened their run at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley. Picture: David Freeman
The cast of the Rocky Horror Show opened their run at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley. Picture: David Freeman

I don’t know what it is - perhaps it’s the bizarre story, B-movie references, kooky characters, risque jokes, rock ‘n’ roll music, or just its nonsensical wackiness - but something about it just speaks to me.

It’s a Monday night at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre and it’s a tamer affair than I’m used to. At these shows, I’ve come to expect outlandish costumes and an excitable buzz.

But it’s opening night here and, as anyone would expect on a Monday, it’s a little quiet.

The Rocky Horror Show follows scientist Frank-N-Furter and his group of 'unconventional conventionalists'. Picture: David Freeman
The Rocky Horror Show follows scientist Frank-N-Furter and his group of 'unconventional conventionalists'. Picture: David Freeman

However, I spot a few fans dotted around the place, dressed up to the nines - two of whom end up sitting next to us, which I’m thrilled about.

We waste no time getting stuck into a conversation about the gentleman’s outfit of a corset, suspenders and stockings. He tells us he got some advice from a drag queen ahead of tonight and managed to find his black stilettos for a steal on eBay.

The show begins and it’s clear it’s not a room full of diehard fans, which is a shame. Some shows rely on spectacular production or show-stopping songs, but this one heavily relies on the participation of its cult following.

However, there are a few pockets of fans who shout out crude heckles and dance in their seats, which is just enough to keep the show’s spirit alive.

Haley Flaherty and Ore Oduba play engaged couple Janet Weiss and Brad Majors. Picture: David Freeman
Haley Flaherty and Ore Oduba play engaged couple Janet Weiss and Brad Majors. Picture: David Freeman

The musical hasn’t changed much over the years, but tonight sees some exceptionally topical off-the-cuff quips from the Narrator - played brilliantly by Philip Franks. His ability to riff and create a hilarious back-and-forth is superb.

Ore Oduba and Haley Flaherty make a great pair as the squeaky-clean Brad and Janet. Strictly fans discovered in 2016 that the glitterball champion could dance, but now we know Ore can sing too.

The star of the show is Frank-N-Furter in all his corseted glory, played by Stephen Webb. It takes a strong actor to step into those heels and Stephen does just that, with a snarling rock drawl that just oozes the crazed doctor’s sexual appetite.

Stephen Webb wows the crowd as Frank-N-Furter, a role made famous by Tim Curry in the 1975 film, the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Picture: David Freeman
Stephen Webb wows the crowd as Frank-N-Furter, a role made famous by Tim Curry in the 1975 film, the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Picture: David Freeman

Of course, I must mention Kristian Lavercombe’s fantastically creepy performance as Riff Raff, a part he has played for over 1,800 shows, making him the longest-serving cast member in Rocky Horror history.

The songs are undeniably fun. The Time Warp, Sweet Transvestite, Hot Patooties and Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch Me seem to delight even the most confused audience members.

The Rocky Horror Show started as an homage to horror and sci-fi B-movies and remains a cult classic, rather than a show for the masses. However, for those who can throw themselves into its weird and wonderful world, it’s a safe place to explore freedom and fun.

The Rocky Horror Show has amassed a cult following since its debut in London almost 50 years ago. Picture: David Freeman
The Rocky Horror Show has amassed a cult following since its debut in London almost 50 years ago. Picture: David Freeman

Tonight, I’m here in a strictly professional capacity - but I’m going back to the late-night showing on Friday for what I expect will be an entirely different experience.

It’ll be full-on Rocky Horror, with costumes, callbacks, and you best believe I’ll be ready to jump to the left, step to the right and Time Warp the night away.

The Rocky Horror Show is at the Churchill Theatre until Saturday, April 16. Book online here or call 03433 100 020.

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