Rocky Horror Show (rockyhorror.com.au)

Lyric Theatre, Sydney | Until 7 June, then moves to Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre

It was worth turning up to the Lyric Theatre with time to spare for a pre-show drink and some people-watching. This overheard conversation between 20-somethings, for example:

“So what’s this show about, anyway?”

“You’ve NEVER HEARD of Rocky Horror? (Long pause, presumably to consider how best to answer) Okay, there’s this newly engaged couple whose car breaks down so they seek shelter with an alien transvestite ...”

“Oh my God, I have GOT to Facebook this … how do you spell transvestite?”

It’s hard for this Boomer to believe that Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror, now past its 40th year, isn’t known to some — even with the cult classic movie version still very much in rotation both on television and in independent cinemas. Who hasn’t frocked up in fishnets for a midnight session, armed with newspaper, rice and water pistols?

But I digress.

This strange journey remains as much fun as it was in 1974, and this current version still manages to push the boundaries. The glitzy Lyric Theatre is a far cry from the crumbling venues that originally housed the Sweet Transvestite, but there is still room for some cheeky ad-libbing, tattiness and B-movie melodrama.

It’s been 23 years since Craig McLachlan first squeezed his impressive frame into the corset, and he makes a welcome return to the role of Dr Frank-N-Furter. Obviously relishing the opportunity to camp it up again, McLachlan sashays in those heels like it was just yesterday.

The screams and hoots that welcomed McLachlan to the stage were only matched by those for Bert Newton as The Narrator. “Oh, you remember me then?” he quips. Oh, Bert. You might not be as mobile in the Time Warp as you once were, but it was a genuine thrill to see you up there — and your delivery is as professional and commanding as ever.

From the — ahem — old hands to the younger cast members, this is an excellent ensemble. Amy Lehpamer’s Janet does a terrific transition from simpering new-fiancée to neo-nympho, and while Stephen Mahy’s Brad seems a less geeky version, his voice is outstanding and he manages to hold his own — so to speak — in the very naughty bedroom scene with Frank.

Kristian Lavercombe (Riff-Raff), Jayde Westaby (Magenta) and Angelique Cassimatis (Columbia) bring wonderful energy to the twisted trio, and Westaby’s doubling up as the Usherette parenthesises the production well. Brendan Irving as Rocky and Nicholas Christo (Eddie/Dr Scott) are strong in every sense of the word.

Some minor sound and set issues should hopefully be sorted as the run proper gets underway.

I wish I’d been able to catch those 20-somethings at the end of the show to see what the Rocky Virgin thought. I’m hoping he went up to the merchandise stand, picked out a red feather boa, sashayed himself into the night — and Facebooked it.

Above: Amy Lehpamer, Stephen Mahy and Craig McLachlan. Image: Brian Geach.

Below: Craig McLachlan and Richard O'Brien. Image: Shane O'Connor.

Brendan Irving and Amy Lehpamer. Image: Brian Geach.