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THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW (article first published : 2008-07-23)

Richard O’Brien’s cult 70s musical, The Rocky Horror Show, being staged at this popular mall theatre for the third time, can always be relied upon to put people in a good mood with its catchy songs, outrageous characters and mountain of tinsel, tackiness and send-up.

Not to forget audience participation elements which are encouraged and include many patrons dressing up like show characters, shouting out stock phrases and questions at pertinent parts of the script, and constantly shooting water pistols or waving glow-sticks, which are on sale at the theatre.

The first Barnyard production of the show that became a cult movie starred Nick Boraine as principal character Frank N Furter; the second Paul du Toit. This time around we have the lesser-known Charles Bouguenon, who played Norman Petty in Buddy at the Barnyard last year.

Tall, commanding and in strong voice, he does a fine job filling fishnet stockings and tottering on impossibly high stilettos as the sweet transvestite, taking his cue in looks and performance from Tim Curry, the definitive Frank N Furter and star of the hit movie version.

It’s the corseted Frank who, aided by his weirdo entourage, seduces a conservative couple, Brad and Janet, when they call at his castle-like home one stormy night – the very night he creates, on a slab in his lab, a blond hunk, Rocky Horror, to satisfy his lustful needs.

Estelle Kriek is an appealing Janet while Dane Paarman, recently seen as Link Larkin in Hairspray in Gauteng, makes a fun Brad. His Hot Patootie, one of the show’s lesser known songs, is a standout in a production co-directed by Matthew Stewardson and Bronwyn Evans.

The ebullient Evans also takes on the scene-stealing role of tap-dancing and helium-voiced Columbia – a role in which she has excelled in all the Barnyard productions - while another clear standout in this show is powerful-voiced Cathrine Hopkins as Magenta, one of Frank’s kooky sidekicks.

Bruce Little is a somewhat disappointing Riff-Raff, (remember how Duncan Royce dominated in this role in the Barnyard’s original production?), but Llewellyn Cordier is perfect as the hunky and dim Rocky Horror. All bleached hair, biceps and brawn, squeezed into a tight golden swimsuit, he’s suitably six-packed and in fine voice.

Also in the cast are Roger Grant as Dr Scott, David Sherwood as Narrator and Dolly Louw, Donnagh Roberts and Christopher Dudgeon as Phantoms. Completing the line-up is 18-year-old newcomer Jerryn Fosteras, who makes a far too youthful Eddie and a lacklustre Phantom.

It has to be said that, for all the fun it still radiates, this latest reincarnation of the story of nerds, cross-dressing aliens, kinky sexual shenanigans, a Nazi in a wheelchair and a bloodied biker is the weakest of those seen at the Barnyard. Set changes at Sunday’s matinee were often clumsy, mostly due to curtains not being closed or opened properly. And speaking of sets, it would have been nice to have seen some new décor elements this time around.

There were also gripes about poor sound quality on Sunday, although this was vastly improved in the second half. I might be wrong, but part of the problem seems to rest with the cast continually switching between concealed and hand-held microphones, the latter of which look clunky and prove a little jarring.

The Rocky Horror Show, lit by Michael Broderick and choreographed by Anitra Davel, is being presented until August 24. Tickets are R130 each from Wednesday to Saturday and R90 a head on Tuesday nights and Sunday afternoons. To book, or for more information, contact the theatre at 031 566 3045. – Billy Suter




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