The Gordon Frost Organisation/Adelaide Festival Centre. Festival Theatre. 10 Jan 2018
As one star falls, another is born.
This is the positive side of the explosive upheaval which beset the Adelaide run of the Rocky Horror Show. With national superstar Craig McLachlan ousted amid accusations of “inappropriate conduct”, understudy Adam Rennie was abruptly thrown into the deep end.
McLachlan is famous in the industry as one of those professionals who never misses a performance so his understudies don’t get out much. Under the stressful cloud of controversy, Rennie had scant time to brush up his act but polish it he did and he brought it out to shine.
Thus did Adam Rennie bring the audience to its collective feet in deafening acclaim.
Rennie is blessed with a truly beautiful voice and a good range. Just on his second night, one could see the actor growing into the role, inhabiting the character and making it his own. With some lovely comic timing, he brings to Frank N. Furter a cheeky, lighter spirit. He is more mischievous than lascivious, even in the famous bed scene. He is lithe and acrobatic, buff without being chunky and, from the comfortable expertise with which he executes the part, it is clear he’s been assiduous in shadowing the role behind the scenes. It’s all the stuff of which show bizz success stories are made - and it happened here in Adelaide before our eyes.
Responding to audience acclaim at curtain, Rennie showed modesty, gratitude and relief. It must be an incredible experience for him.
The rest of the Rocky cast swirls around him well practised in their parts, working hard as a professional touring company must, cues sharp, choreography bright and precise, voices strong and clear, albeit there are times when dialogue is indistinct.
Not so from our own Peter Goers as The Narrator. Every syllable resounds from that familiar ABC voice, suspenseful pauses underscoring the comic expectations of Rocky Horror's outlandish sci-fi sexy storyline. Suave in the vivid smoking jackets, he prowls the stage, pointers the dance steps and uses his considerable stage presence to obscure the fact that a dancer he is not. He, too, brings the house to deafening cheers of love and acclaim.
Rocky himself as played by Brendan Irving, is all shimmering muscles and sweetly dolt-faced, and is simply adorable, Rob Mallett as Brad and Michelle Smitheram as Janet are true to form, strongly sung and courageously funny. Kristian Lavercombe’s Riff Raff, with a richly-edged voice which could cut through galvanised iron, is spectacular. No wonder he has been playing the role in 1000 plus performances through assorted productions. His offsiders, Columbine from Nadia Komazec and Magenta from Amanda Harrison, are wicked, wily and sexy with a small, tight ensemble affected by quick changes and lots of you-beaut stage effects.
The show is loud. The small orchestra is onstage, aloft and just visible behind a giant faux celluloid screen. It is right there on every cue and quite the musical powerhouse.
Altogether, it’s a big, slick professional blockbuster show and worth the ticket price. Betwixt and between them all, with cohesion and discipline, this classy working company of actors has pretty seamlessly kept the show on the road despite the calamity of complaints by former cast members.
All power to them, and three cheers for a new Australian stage star, Adam Rennie.
When: 28 Dec 17 to 13 Jan 18
Where: Festival Theatre
Bookings: SOLD OUT