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Review: Rocky Horror Show at Sunderland Empire

About the most fun you can have with your clothes on, almost!

The Rocky Horror Show
Sunderland Empire
Until Saturday 20th February 2016
Richard O’Brien’s homage to the late night b-movie sci-fi double bill is a deliciously fun mix of tongue in cheek jokes and entertaining songs.

Little Voice’s Diana Vickers and Emmerdale’s Ben Freeman appear as the hapless teen couple Janet and Brad. They are lost, their spare tyre needs blowing up when they need it most on a stormy night. They decide to head back to the castle that they had just passed in order to use their phone and summon help.

Butler Riff Raff (Kristian Lavercombe) opens the door and welcomes them in. They come to the immediate attention of Magenta (Kay Murphy) and Columbia (Sophie Linder-Lee) and before they know it they are dancing the Time Warp.

The master of the house, Frank N Furter (Liam Tamne) has no intention of letting them go and before they know it they meet zombie rocker Eddie (Zachary Morris) and his replacement, created by Fran N Furter, Rocky (Dominic Andersen).

Usually in a musical it is expected that the audience only clap at the end of the musical numbers. They shouldn’t sing along or interrupt the proceedings. But the Rocky Horror Show is no normal musical. It doesn’t so much as break the fourth wall, it smashes it to pieces. The audience joined in with the first song Science Fiction/Double Feature, danced to the Time Warp and added smart quips to the narration by Steve Punt.

There are no weak points in the singing abilities of this cast, which has not always been the case. They are enjoying the show and this helps bring a real warmth to the proceedings. The live band, under Musical Director Ben Van Tienen, don’t miss a beat from their perch above the stage. 

Liam Tamne is wonderful as Frank N Furter. Whilst he owned the stage with his performance, their was a deliious vulnerability to both his voice and interpretation of the role.

Diana Vickers and Sophie Linder-Lee were also given opportunity to use their vocal abilities to great effect.

The dance routines, choreographed by Nathan M Wright, are fabulous and fun. Dominic Andersen deserves special mention for his push up antics.

The set design by Hugh Durrant is highly effective at allowing the action to flow without interruption.

Tim Curry and co, from the film, leave big shoes to fill but this cast is more than up to the job. The show feels inclusive and entertaining. It is a great tribute to the late night movies. This production of The Rocky Horror Show is charming and not corny, provocative without being tasteless. It leaves the audience with a big grin on their faces.

Take a step to the left…”

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

Tickets available in person at Sunderland Empire Box Office, by calling 0844 871 3022* or by booking online at* plus a transaction fee applies.

The Rocky Horror Show 2015 / 2016 UK Tour Dates

15 – 20 February 2016                     Sunderland: Empire Theatre                       0844 871 3022   
22 – 27 February 2016                     Southampton:  Mayflower Theatre          0238 071 1811
29 February – 5 March 2016         Wimbledon: New Wimbledon Theatre    0844 871 7646
07 – 12 March 2016                          Torquay: Princess Theatre                           0844 871 3023
14 – 19 March 2016                          Bradford: Alhambra Theatre                        0127 443 2000
28 March – 2 April 2016                  Edinburgh: Playhouse Theatre                    0844 871 3014
4 – 9 April 2016                                  Belfast: Grand Opera House                        028 9024 1919   
11 – 16 April 2016                             York: Opera House                                        0844 871 3024
18 – 23 April 2016                             Aylesbury: Waterside Theatre                    0844 871 7607
25 – 30 April 2016                             Nottingham: Theatre Royal                         0115 989 5555
02 – 07 May 2016                              Richmond: Richmond Theatre                    0844 871 7651   
23 – 28 May 2016                              Stoke: Regent Theatre                                  0844 871 7649
27 June - 2 July 2016                       Woking: New Victoria Theatre                    0844 871 7645  
11 – 16 July 2015                               Watford: Watford Colosseum                    01923 571 102
18 – 23 July 2016                               Bristol: Hippodrome                                      0844 871 7652
8 – 13 August 2016                           Glasgow: King’s Theatre                               0844 871 7648 

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