It's astounding! Rocky Horror Show lands in Tel Aviv

The Rocky Horror Show draws the audience into the rose-tinted world of the cult classic.

 ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ is landing in Israel for the first time in its nearly 50-year run.  (photo credit: Jeff Brod)
‘The Rocky Horror Show’ is landing in Israel for the first time in its nearly 50-year run.
(photo credit: Jeff Brod)

The Rocky Horror Show has officially landed in Tel Aviv, inviting Israelis "up to the lab" for a night full of excitement fueled by the cult classic on stage.

From the moment the usherette (the stage version of the bodiless lips in the movie) steps on stage, the intense energy on stage and in the crowd does not stop, even after the actors take their last bow.

So what was the show like?

Immediately much of the crowd had their phones' flashlights up (lighters in a theater are a little problematic nowadays), waving and singing along to "Science Fiction/Double Feature," until straight-laced Brad (Ore Oduba) and Janet (Haley Flaherty) appear next to the chapel for their romantic and oh-so-innocent intro.

From there the lead couple set off and end up with a flat (well how about that?) before following the light over to the Frankenstein place where they're greeted by Riff-Raff (Kristian Lavercombe) who gladly brings them inside. Already at this point, the crowd is throwing talkback lines, warning the couple to stay where they are after they try to wander off. The unique aspect of the live show is that the couple actually listens and meekly walks back to where they started.

 The Time Warp in the Rocky Horror Show (credit: Jeff Brod) The Time Warp in the Rocky Horror Show (credit: Jeff Brod)

That's when the chaotic Time Warp really begins, sweeping both the couple and the audience off their feet and introducing them to Magenta and Columbia, masterfully played by Suzie McAdam and Lauren Ingram respectively.

The audience doesn’t need to shiver with antici….pation for too long, because soon Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Stephen Webb), a transvestite mad scientist, makes his grand appearance through the main door wrapped in his classic black cloak and a sly “How do you do.”

While Brad and Janet are out of luck in terms of finding a phone in the castle, they do get invited up to the lab to see the creation of Rocky (Ben Westhead), an artificially made, fully grown but scantily clothed man. From there the cast is thrown into a series of escapades (largely in the bedroom) until the grand, rose-tinted finale and the Transylvanians’ departure from this world.

New life given to a cult classic on stage

The show really manages to take the classic experience that many of us grew up with on the screen and perhaps in a theater with a troupe playing it out in front of the movie and give it new life. (Even though the stage show did actually come before the movie itself).

It’s like entering that world, a place without boundaries and full of primal energy. (Although of course some of the behaviors seen in the show should not be performed among the audience in the hall) If you are faint of heart, you won’t be by the end of the show.

The Rocky Horror Show pulls you in and shakes you up, whether you be prim-and-proper like Brad and Janet or quite the opposite like Frank-N-Furter and his crew. Throughout the show, fans in the crowd yelled out classic throwback lines and became a real part of the show in a way that is unique to a live performance as the cast does react.

The music had you on your feet, with fans taking a step to the right into the aisles in order to dance the Time Warp. A fiery encore at the end, even after two hours of non-stop energy, had the audience joining in the dance yet again while delivering a standing ovation.

The cast brought the characters to life on stage perfectly, be it Oduba with his excellent portrayal of the constantly anxious and delicate Brad or Webb with his top-notch vocals strutting on stage in a corset and fish-net stockings with confidence and allure that really shows he has entered the high heels left by Tim Curry with style.

As Rocky, Westhead manages to bring both an innocent naivety and a desire to know more about the not-so-innocent to the character. Flaherty seamlessly enters the role of Janet from the movie, while bringing new life to the character in her own right, seamlessly flowing from prim-and-proper to a “creature of the night.”

Lavercombe‘s Riff-Raff, McAdam’s Magenta and Ingram’s Colombia seem to be addressing the crowd with both speech and body language as much as they’re speaking with the other characters, really helping to pull the audience into the experience. Joe Allen does a great job as both Eddie and Dr. Scott, going easily from bursting from the fridge as bad-boy Eddie to wheeling stage as the sophisticated scientist, his uncle, Dr. Scott.

Israeli fashion designer and singer Yuval Caspin did an excellent job portraying the narrator of the show, bringing the proper sophistication and Hitchcock-esque foreboding even without the British accent.

The show also featured monitors with Hebrew subtitles for the script and lyrics for Hebrew speakers, although the show itself is in English, except for Caspin’s parts narrating.

For “virgins” (meaning those who haven’t yet been to a live or theater showing of the show, get your mind out of the gutter), the show is a great introduction to the cult classic, even if they’ve never seen the movie, as it brings a unique life to the show that can only be experienced off screen.

However, it may be wise for virgins to see the movie beforehand in order to be a little clearer on who the characters are and what the storyline is so that they can fully immerse themselves in the chaos without having to try and figure out what’s happening.

The show, the inspiration for the cult-classic movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show, first premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in 1973. The movie developed its own cult following in Israel, but this is the first time the out-of-this-world stage production has landed here.

The Rocky Horror Show is playing from August 22-27 at the Heichal Hatarbut [Charles Bronfman Auditorium] in Tel Aviv. Tickets are available starting at NIS 199, with discounts available through El Al’s Matmid frequent flyer program, Bank Leumi’s Goodies program, and through rewards programs for American Express, MAX and Isracard credit cards.