“Let’s do the Time Warp again!”
The legendary Rocky Horror Show returned to the West End for a short season at the Playhouse Theatre which ends today, ahead of a UK Tour. Creator Richard O’Brien also returned, this time as the Narrator. A firm favourite with theatre-goers, the Christopher Luscombe directed production was extended by an extra week due to demand. Included in the run was a one-off charity performance with special guests, including Stephen Fry and Emma Brunton in aid of Amnesty International,broadcast live throughout the UK and Europe. Olivier Award winner David Bedella also returned as the lead Frank’n’ Furter after performing in various Rocky productions between 2006 to 2010. He is joined by Ben Forster as Brad, who played the role in the 40th Anniversary UK Tour and Haley Flaherty completes the many happy returns as Janet, after playing her in Singapore, NZ and the UK Tours. All three will not be part of the upcoming British tour.
The show does attract a loyal and dedicated fan-base, who usually gather at the stage door in a variety of cross-dressing guises and nominal drapery in homage to the production. I spent a little bit of time amongst them over the fortnight, securing graphs on my sketches. At times, more conservative attire made me the oddball and the only one with drawings to sign, even odder. But that’s what the show’s all about-accepting people’s differences and it certainly makes a difference to your day when you harvest a full set of signed sketches.
“It is incredibly daunting. For me he is the ultimate Riff Raff. When everyone thinks of Riff Raff they think of Richard O’Brien,” said Kristian Lavercombe who reprises the role in the limited run of The Rocky Horror Show at London’s Playhouse Theatre before it’s UK tour. Joining him in the cult classic is none other than the man himself. Richard not only created the phenomenon, but was the original stage and screen Riff Raff. He plays the Narrator during the London run. It’s Kristian’s West End ‘bucket list’ debut, but he’s no stranger to the show. Having appeared in the UK 40th Anniversary.the Australian,Korean, Singapore and New Zealand tours, the ‘professional Riff Raff’ has notched up over 900 performances and will soon become the person who has played in Rocky Horror the most times in it’s 42 year history after the UK Tour finishes in 2017. Playing Frank’n Furter’s sidekick isn’t the only role the versatile New Zealander has performed. Called a ‘vocal genius’ by British critic William I.Connolly, Kristian has covered the full gambit from the Son of God in Jesus Christ Superstar to the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, which I incorporated in my montage.
To quote a line from Riff Raff’s signature tune Time Warp, “Madness takes its toll,’ sometimes best describes the autograph collecting circus. Amongst a large group, mostly waiting for Richard at the stage door, I was able to meet the ‘unknown’ Kristian without having to partake in the ritual scrum. He has been involved in productions in my home town in New Zealand for the Invercargill Musical Theatre Company, including Rocky Horror (not as Riff Raff), so we had some common ground for a brief chat as he signed for me Then ‘with a jump to the left and a step to the right’ he went to prepare for the late matinee.