Rocky Horror Show.
Previews from 12 Feb 2008.
Opening Night 21 Feb 2008.
Star Theatre, Star City, Sydney.
RICHARD O’BRIEN’S ROCKY HORROR SHOW, bursting at the seams with timeless classics including I’m Just a Sweet Transvestite; Damn It Janet and the pelvic-thrusting Time Warp!

DON’T DREAM IT…BE IT at the new Star Theatre, Star City when the biggest and best rock’n’roll musical of them all swings into Sydney in February 2008.

John Waters will play The Narrator, Iota will play Frank-n-Furter, Paul Capsis will be Riff Raff, Tamsin Carroll will be Magenta, Sharon Millerchip will be Columbia, Kellie Rode will be Janet and Michael Cormick will be Eddie/Dr Scott.
Sydney Morning Herald August 16, 2007
Not doing the time warp again
Next year's production of the Rocky Horror musical will offer something new.

IF A producer had asked director Gale Edwards several months ago to stage a new version of The Rocky Horror Show she would have shook her head in disbelief and declined.

After all, how can Richard O'Brien's once radical and daring 1970s rock 'n' roll musical be reincarnated differently without offending its hard-core fans? And what does Rocky Horror have to offer beyond light entertainment amid today's vicarious pleasures of YouTube, chat rooms and reality TV?

But as is often the way in the ephemera of show business, the planets were lining up and the lightning bolts of inspiration were striking in all the right places for another take on the larger-than life Frank-n-Furter, his acolytes and foes.

Aside from securing the services of Edwards, designer Dale Ferguson, choreographer John O'Connell and lighting whiz Damien Cooper, the turning point came when the singer-songwriter iOTA signed on to play the sweet transvestite from Transylvania. With a strong fan base and riding high on the success of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, for which he won a Helpmann Award last week, iOTA's own cult status and fearlessness may do the trick at the box office.

The show's co-producers, Dainty Consolidated Entertainment and the Ambassador Theatre Group, are banking on it.

iOTA's appeal to women and men, as well as his sheer performing nerve, means he will most likely erase memories of a number of limp portrayals that have failed to eclipse landmark theatrical turns by Tim Curry, Reg Livermore, Daniel Abineri and Max Phipps.

The revival, opening early next year at the revamped Star Theatre, formerly Star City Showroom, was launched last night. Joining iOTA in the "hunting lodge for rich weirdos" are Paul Capsis as Riff Raff, Sharon Millerchip as Columbia, Michael Cormack as Eddie and Kellie Rode as Janet. The role of Brad is yet to be cast.

With minimal fuss and fanfare, The Rocky Horror Show opened in 1973 at London's Royal Court Theatre in a tiny upstairs space seating 63 people. No one working on the show, including O'Brien, director Jim Sharman and designer Brian Thomson, dreamt that it would become a worldwide cult hit although word of mouth and critical acclaim led to a long run at various theatres and with many cast changes throughout the '70s. The show premiered in Sydney in 1974 at the New Arts Cinema in Glebe, starring Livermore and Kate Fitzpatrick. When Sharman and co made The Rocky Horror Picture Show for 20th Century Fox in 1975, it turned out to be a sleeper. Aside from the dress-up devotees, it took a while for audiences to embrace the gloriously ironic comic strip and horror movie collage, or what O'Brien, 64, calls a universal story of innocence and sexual blossoming. "It's a rock and roll experience and the audience love it … They throw caution to the wind and it gives them a licence to 'be it'."

O'Brien, the original Riff Raff, told the Herald that Rocky "was way ahead of its time, [when] the world was still scared of men in stockings. It's probably given birth to many other shows such as Little Shop of Horrors and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Its enduring appeal is down to it being a guaranteed great party."

Says Edwards: "As a director you have to keep the camp fantasy alive but the show also has to be reassessed. I want it to be celebratory but I also want it to have a few layers. It's a big responsibility because Rocky Horror is iconographic. I grew up with it and the movie is timeless and could have been made yesterday. The last thing I want is to make the show dismissable. I am up for the challenge and hugely excited about it."

Edwards, who is directing Marlowe's Edward II for the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington in October, committed to Rocky on the strength of the talent involved. She agrees that a revival without such a heaven-sent cast risked being formulaic and tame. In recent years there have been instances of similarly modest stage shows - low-budget musicals such as Rent and Urinetown - which leapt into the commercial stratosphere, all eager and buff, yet somehow lost the essence of danger that gave them a cult following in the first place. Almost miraculously, Rocky Horror, which originally had the working title They Came from Denton High, has bucked the trend, although it's hardly the revelatory rite of passage it once was.

"We don't want a creaky reproduction," insists Edwards, the director of Festen and Sweeney Todd. "This new production is well attuned to the excesses and gratifications of contemporary culture and the power of celebrity … Frank-n-Furter can be seen as a parody of a Robbie Williams and is someone who can't belong to the real world. And just like Big Brother, Frank has the whole house under surveillance and so voyeurism is a strong part of the work's fascination and appeal."

Edwards has given considerable thought to reinterpreting the deceptively simple work, so much so that you'd almost swear that she was doing a thesis on the subject. "We live in a world where we have our own Frankenstein mythology of creating the perfect man. It's a world obsessed with beauty and achieving perfect body parts and turning it into a spectacle on TV in various makeover shows … Frank-n-Furter has to kill the embodiment of rampant, uncontrollable male energy whereas the thing he creates is blond, hairless and has no brain. Rocky seems to be sexually impotent; the thing Frank has created is great to look at but unfulfilling. There's a sense of creating an Adonis or an Atlas but what's in the interior? It's that darker side that appeals to me …"

The Rocky Horror Show opens at the Star Theatre in February. Tickets go on sale on August 27.

28Aug07. Interview on Ch10, 9am With David and Kim. Thanks for recording it Rachael !
Sydney Morning Herald. February 9, 2008 By Tim Elliott. The schlock of the new

Gale Edward's neighbours are a tough audience. Edwards, arguably Australia's most accomplished theatre director, has travelled the world bringing to life some of the greatest plays in the most prestigious company. She has directed Jesus Christ Superstar at London's Lyceum Theatre and The Taming Of The Shrew with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has taken Marlowe's Edward II to Washington and Les Misérables to Vienna.
An archetypal fairy story ... the cast of the new production (clockwise, from top left) Rocky (Simon Farrow), Frank-N-Furter (iOTA), Magenta (Tamsin Carroll), Riff Raff (Paul Capsis), Brad (Andrew Bevis), Janet (Kellie Rode) and Columbia (Sharon Millerchip).
And yet the folks in her Glebe laneway remained as silent as the sphinx. But the minute they found out I was directing Rocky Horror, people were coming up to me saying, 'Wow! I hear you're doing Rocky Horror!' " Edwards says.

Thirty-five years and umpteen incarnations after its opening in the 63-seat Theatre Upstairs at London's Royal Court, The Rocky Horror Show is again pulling on the suspenders, with Edwards at the helm. But updating this iconic piece of rock'n'roll theatre, once so deliciously transgressive, has provided challenges aplenty for cast and director.

Written by Richard O'Brien and first directed by Australian Jim Sharman, the musical tells the story of Brad and Janet, a buttoned-up, all-American couple who, when their car breaks down in the dead of night, seek help at a nearby castle. Greeted at the door by a hunchback butler, Riff Raff (played in the new production by Paul Capsis), the couple are soon mixing it with a leather-clad procession of vamps and tramps, lorded over by a transsexual alien called Frank-N-Furter (iOTA) and his libidinous assistants, Columbia and Magenta. What follows is a tale of sexual awakening accompanied by a soundtrack - songs such as Science Fiction and Time Warp - that, like the play and its subsequent movie version, fast achieved cult status.

"At the time it was considered saucy to have a transvestite," says Nell Campbell, who played Columbia in the original 1973 production and in the 1975 feature film. "Today that's a jaded idea. But what completely lives on is the music: there's not a dud tune in the show, which is why it'll survive, like all the great musicals - My Fair Lady, South Pacific, the Rodgers and Hammerstein stuff."

For Edwards, though, a pair of suspenders and some catchy tunes do not a good musical make - certainly not in 2008 and certainly not for Star Casino's revamped Star Theatre, where the show will premiere this month.
"The original show came out of the punk era and that whole counter-culture informed it all," Edwards says. "We're still going to have that eccentricity and cheekiness, but to speak to an audience today you have to bring out other layers of meaning."

Beyond the acres of fishnet lies "an archetypal fairy story", she says, "one that plays into the stream of our subconscious and speaks to deeper levels in us.

Brad and Janet are Adam and Eve figures who meet the serpent, Frank-N-Furter, who introduces them to pleasures of the flesh. They are changed irreparably and, as the narrator says, are 'left crawling across the planet's face, lost in time and space and meaning'."

Progenitor for such musicals as Little Shop Of Horrors and Hedwig And The Angry Inch, Rocky Horror is certainly due for a makeover. "I've always been fascinated with breathing new life into pieces," Edwards says. "So I was the perfect girl for the job."

But such reinvention is not without risk. In 2003 the The New York Times criticised her production of Richard III, at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, in which Edwards turned Shakespeare's courtiers into laptop-wielding reporters.

"Gale certainly has a particular process," says Tamsin Carroll, who plays Magenta. "She's not content to do any old revival and neither are we. She's really gone back to the text, and what she's found is a very biblical story. It's about a loss of innocence, which is something we can all relate to. Who hasn't at some stage been on a journey of sexual awakening, where you have to deal with temptation and questions of morality?"

At 28, Carroll is the very embodiment of Edwards's generational dilemma.

"I never saw Rocky Horror at the theatre," Carroll says. "I saw the film, I think, once or twice, but it never meant much to me. I didn't grow up with it and wasn't particularly interested in it. If anything, Grease was more of an influence."

But, according to Carroll, O'Brien's script is richer than most people realise. "The first thing Gale did was get us all together in the rehearsal room and for three days we just read it through and discussed it, scene by scene. We left with a really good idea of who we're playing and their back story."

Carroll and the cast then gorged on B-grade horror and science-fiction flicks - Barbarella, The Forbidden Planet, The Day Of The Triffids, films that informed the play's kitschy, camped-up aesthetic. The original set, put together for $600 by Australian Brian Thomson, was intended to look like a cheap cinema.

"Or at least a theatre that was in the process of being converted into a cinema, which was happening to theatres all over London at that time," Nell Campbell says.

"It was an extremely original idea, to have a set that [involved] a screen and have the performance in front of the screen. It worked, too, because Richard [O'Brien] wrote it as a send-up of all those cheap horror films."

The current production also taps into that. "The old Hammer House Of Horror feel is central to the show," set designer Dale Ferguson says. "You know, unlocking the dark cinema of someone's youth.

The only difference is that our set won't have quite the same comic-strippy type feel. It'll be more realistic, as if it's real cinema that's just decayed and in a state of disrepair."

Ferguson, whose previous projects include Eugene Onegin for Opera Australia and The History Boys for the Melbourne Theatre Company, had only $200,000 to play with, "which is extremely small in musical terms. It means that you just have to be really resourceful and rely to a certain degree on found objects. Brad and Janet's car, for instance, was pieced together with the grille and headlights from an old Holden EK."

All up, Ferguson spent two weeks finding abandoned props for the interior of Frank-N-Furter's mansion: carved polystyrene lions, Japanese lanterns, old traffic lights and, best of all, a one-metre-high vacuum-formed Egyptian mummy's head.

"That was the fun part," he says. Putting it all together in the new Star Theatre, a comparatively low-roofed venue originally designed for cabaret, proved somewhat trickier.

"We are the first show in there after it's been converted from a showroom with tables and seats," he says. "So we've inherited elements that have been, ah, challenging. The stage is lower, for a start, so we needed to raise it to make sure that an audience in tiered seating can see the performers' feet, which is important when you have lyrics like, 'It's just a jump to the left.' "

The sight lines are also unusually wide, with seating that curves around the stage. "We had to carefully consider how deep the set was going to be, to make sure that everyone in the audience could see major entrances, like Frank-N-Furter's."

Set modifications aside, Ferguson remains confident of the show's relevance. "The only comedy is in truth," he says. "And there's plenty of truth in Rocky Horror. The songs are fun but this show still has things to tell us."
Daily Telegraph. Tamsin stuck in a time warp By Gary Smith February 12, 2008 12:00am

SHE was performing on the set of a television series with her dad when she was four, a member of the actors' union at seven and playing small roles on stage - you might say Tamsin Carroll was destined to be an actress.

"It was so wonderful being around the theatre and on film and television sets with Dad (Peter Carroll)," she says. "But I didn't want to be a child actor because I knew I'd be getting around to it later on. "It was pretty evident when I came home singing Don't Cry For Me Argentina when Dad was in Evita in the early '80s that there was never going to be a doctor in the family, no matter how hard I tried to apply myself."

Carroll, whose mother, a theatre historian, had "a great passion for the arts which she instilled in me", takes to the stage in another musical blockbuster tonight when The Rocky Horror Show opens with preview performances. Carroll plays Magenta, a vampy alien maid from transsexual Transylvania who, with Frank-N-Furter (played by iOTA), Riff Raff (Paul Capsis) and Columbia (Sharon Millerchip), take us on a "strange journey".

"I'm the luckiest girl in the show because my brother in the show is Paul Capsis, who I've wanted to work with forever and ever," says Carroll. "My father has worked with him, and here we finally get together as brother and sister but in the worst way. "Paul is a fount of invention, the kind of performer who is very brave with his choices. "All the characters have some identifiable nature, because the show is about human nature."

Carroll says she has also revelled in working with director Gale Edwards, who spent the first days of rehearsals with the cast just rereading Richard O'Brien's script, looking for new layers in story and character 35 years after the show made its debut in a small London theatre.

"What Gale tends to do with things is say `what more can it be?' Not that things need to change, but what layers can we add to this basic structure that has worked so brilliantly for more than 30 years," she says. "So in the first days of rehearsals we had this extraordinary discussion and read the script over and over and found so much more depth to it than we expected. I think Gale is undervalued in this country. "She's a fantastic, intelligent and creative human being. If she said she was doing a production of people reading the racing form guide I'd go `pick me'."

The Rocky Horror Show, which premiered in Australia in 1974, garnered cult status around the world, spurred by the 1975 film version starring Tim Curry, when audiences dressed as their favourite characters would replicate the singing and dancing on screen or stage. Its musical soundtrack includes the pelvic-thrusting The Time Warp, I'm Just A Sweet Transvestite, Science Fiction/Double Feature and I'm Going Home. Carroll says singer-songwriter turned actor iOTA performing I'm Going Home will provide a special moment for audiences. "He's fantastic, it's very moving the way he does it," she says.

Aside from her nerves playing up as usual - "I always feel sick before opening night" - Carroll is concerned about the effects of strutting her stuff on stage while wearing a tight corset. "We'll all be losing weight," she says. "It's hard work doing The Time Warp while wearing this gear."
The Australian  No, not the time warp again. By Ian Cuthbertson  February 15, 2008

THE characters of Brad and Janet in The Rocky Horror Show, it has been written, are like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and the indomitable DrFrank-n-Furter represents the corrupting serpent. Certainly, Brad and Janet are innocents. When we meet them, Janet has just caught the bouquet at her friend Betty Munro's wedding. "Just think, an hour ago she was plain Betty Munro and now she's Mrs Ralph Hapschadt," squeals a delighted Janet.

Of course, Janet is "saving herself" for her wedding night. Her nerdish beau, Brad Majors, is only too happy to go along with tradition. After all, this is the 1950s, coming to us via 1973, and landing in a Sydney theatre in 2008 with temporal temerity and expectations of something like a three-year run. Are they serious?  Frank-n-Furter, to my mind, is closer to Caligula than to the serpent of Eden.

Anyone who has seen the musical or attended one of those late-night cinema sessions will know the tale: Frank has sex with both Brad and Janet before they can consummate their engagement, never mind their marriage.  The genius of Rocky Horror is its juxtaposition of the values of the '50s with the transgressive sexual freedoms of the '70s in the form of Frank, a voracious and predatory transvestite from another planet. It mines the themes and ambience of the forgettable yet lovable sci-fi films of that era, and parodies the music.

"Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still," sings an unnamed usherette at the start of the show. "And Flash Gordon was there in silver underwear." Of course Rocky, Frank's "monster", is generally played by a bodybuilder in silver underwear. And so forth.

The twist is that Rocky has been created solely for Frank's sexual pleasure, much to Rocky's horror. In the '70s, even seeing the show was an act of defiance and liberation. You felt the zeitgeist as you lined up at Sydney's New Arts Cinema in suburban Glebe to hand over $5.75 for a stalls ticket.

I shyly confess that, like Mark Trevorrow (Bob Downe) and others of a certain age and persuasion, I was gobsmacked by the show, and lined up so often with my friend Sue - Will and Grace in crushed velvet cloaks - that we got to know the real usherettes, who would greet us happily with "not again!"

David Bowie, that great homo-pretender, was about. Notoriously camp mime Lindsay Kemp was touring, gay liberation was thumping at the doors of respectable society, the bars of Oxford Street were jumping, and hordes of people were clamouring to see Rocky Horror, many of them repeat customers.

Reg Livermore, who played Frank with great power as a Bette Davis-infused grotesque, was aware of the repeat-customer phenomenon. In part, he justified his additions to the absurdly simple script with the notion that he was giving fans something new.

In his 2003 memoir Chapters and Chances, Livermore writes: "For the first couple of months I played it as written, to the dot and comma. But later, when it had become my second skin, I started to take unpardonable liberties with the Richard O'Brien script; I just couldn't help myself."

In the '70s, Rocky Horror had everything: a legendary Australian performer exploding into stardom; people finding personal liberation, even salvation, in repeat attendances; and "unpardonable liberties" being taken with a threadbare script.

The '50s were just 20 years behind Rocky Horror when it was conceived. Now they are 50 years away.

Perhaps that shouldn't matter, as older musicals continue to be resurrected and go on to do well with contemporary audiences, who seem to crave the familiar.

But in 2008 the idea of a transvestite lead hardly seems transgressive at all. The recent movie version of Hairspray, which also plunders '50s values, had, without fanfare or explanation, John Travolta in full drag in a central role. The only possible justification is that Hairspray was conceived originally by John Waters for '70s drag queen Divine, who played the original role. That someone as mainstream as Travolta was dying to jump into a frock to play the part tells us much about the status of cross-dressing in contemporary culture. It's a yawn.

The Rocky Horror Show began its life in a tiny London theatre, the 63-seat Theatre Upstairs, on June 19, 1973. After that, it moved around London, but generally played in run-down establishments.

In 1974, Sydney's New Arts Cinema (formerly the Glebe Astor) was a suitably decrepit venue for the live show. The sense of decay was enhanced by cleverly exposed interior scaffolding, festooned with Acme Construction signs. Can Rocky survive the high glitz of the New Star Theatre, a theatre inside a casino? Surely Rocky was never made for Vegas.

I have no doubt that the talent level in the forthcoming production will be high. Gale Edwards is an acclaimed director. Paul Capsis is absurdly talented, but will he be satisfied with the minor role of Riff-Raff? Mister iOTA comes with great notices, and he's sure to deliver a unique Frank-n-Furter: a hot dog for our times.

But will audiences come as they used to, or has Rocky Horror's moment passed? Will the hero, who has sex with almost everyone in the cast, flourish in this condom-using, AIDS-aware world? And will tentative young people in search of an identity be inspired not only to dream it, but to be it?

The time warp will have to be very convincing indeed.

The Rocky Horror Show opens on Thursday at the Star Theatre in Sydney.
Aussie Theatre . com Review

The story is iconic, the characters are legendary and the songs are etched in theatrical history, carrying across generations and escaping the traditional 'showtune' mould to become numbers well entrenched in popular culture. With those elements already on the table, how could you really go wrong with The Rocky Horror Show?

This new production, directed by the incomparable Gale Edwards, attempts to find the edginess and the daring nature of some of the best versions of the show from decades gone by, and on the whole it succeeds in presenting something pretty special, even if there's a few bumps and bruises along the way.

Most of us know the story: young lovers Brad and Janet are out for a night on the town, only to have their car break down in the middle of nowhere. They go in search of a phone and stumble across a house where, as they ultimately learn, not everything is quite right. And so begins a two hour journey full of transvestites, sex, maniac experiments and of course, killer music.

While changes have been made to this production after writer Richard O'Brien allowed Edwards some creative licence, the core of the show remains the same and in many ways this production pays tribute to those that have gone before it, never really escaping the quirkiness that makes it such an enjoyable and care-free musical romp. There's certainly no attempt to make it any more serious than it should be and thankfully, no dumbing down to try to appeal to a new breed of fans.

As the story's cornerstone star-struck lovers Brad and Janet, Andrew Bevis and Kellie Rode are wonderful, particularly Rode who comes to life in the second act with a sensational rendition of 'Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch Me'. There's other good performances too - Michael Cormick's experience and stage presence is a real winner here, while Sharon Millerchip and Tamsin Carroll are fantastic as Columbia and Magenta, though Carroll would benefit from a pumping up of the sound - there's moments she should really command the stage but fails to do so, through no fault of her own.

However, there is little doubt that this production belongs to iOTA as Frank 'n' Furter. He owns the stage the minute he enters, much like he did in his crowning glory Hedwig And The Angry Inch, and he delivers a stellar, Herculean performance that is every bit as good as the heavy expectations upon him demanded. He is a true theatrical star in the making and his edgy, brawny stage attitude is perfect for this role.

The biggest problem this production has is the way it speeds through the first act, almost like somebody has hit a fast forward button and can't get it unstuck. Thankfully, this problem is rectified in the second stanza, which is much sharper with stronger performances and a more relaxed feeling.

It is impossible to re-invent the wheel when it comes to The Rocky Horror Show and there is little doubt that over the years it has lost its shock value and its grungy feel, but it remains an entertaining and enjoyable night at the theatre and with an unbelievably talented cast and some solid creative elements (Dale Ferguson's set is noteworthy and Julie Lynch does a fantastic job on costumes), Edwards' production does not disappoint.

This production provides a wonderful opportunity for old Rocky Horror fans to re-live some great memories (and there's plenty of fans out there to ensure this show survives), but whether or not it does enough to attract new blood, so to speak, is questionable. It is, however, a spectacle that should be seen and taken for what it is - fun, unassuming entertainment.
The Australian. Time hasn't warped Rocky Horror charm. REVIEW: Deborah Jones  February 22, 2008

MANY turned up last night to do the time warp again, some were time warp virgins.

Let's hope they don't hate themselves this morning, having been comprehensively ravished by cabaret star iOTA as Dr Frank-N-Furter, the high-heeled, fishnet-stockinged Transylvanian transvestite who seems to have discovered the secret of eternal youth.

Well, he is from another planet, the planet Transexual.

The Rocky Horror Show has rarely been out of view since its debut in London 35 years ago. If there's not a late-night screening of the 1975 film there's a production either running or being planned.

What started out as grungy fringe revue turned into a full-blown theatrical cult, followed by the middle years of transformation into slightly naughty family entertainment.

Now, thankfully, the filth is back, albeit tucked into a bouquet of colour riotous enough to make a drag queen blush.

Gale Edwards's new production opened last night in Sydney in front of a glittering audience containing Rocky Horror author Richard O'Brien, comedian Chris Lilley, actor Rose Byrne, Wiggle Sam Moran having a grown-up moment and, most affectingly, the original Sydney Riff-Raff, Sal Sharah.

It's pointless comparing this wonderful gothic rock 'n' roll circus with the legendary 1974 Sydney production, staged in a rundown Glebe theatre, that made a huge star of Reg Livermore. The times were different and the sexual transgressions much more, well, transgressive. Don't we all do this stuff now?

Or maybe not. The naive will always be with us, and that healthy couple Brad and Janet have a journey of sensual discovery that still has charm and humour.

The songs are still fresh and funny and come along every few minutes, but the entrancing discovery is that through the imaginations of Edwards, designers Dale Ferguson, Julie Lynch and Damien Cooper, Rocky Horror is made anew.

It might not be Ibsen, but it's exhilarating.

The whole cast is splendid - an opinion seconded by O'Brien last night - but above all is iOTA, whose pan-sexual charisma is the linchpin. He has stellar support from stage veterans Paul Capsis as Riff Raff, Tamsin Carroll as Magenta and Sharon Millerchip as Columbia.

The evening finished with O'Brien, who keeps a close eye on the show's fortunes and incarnations, leaping on to the stage during the encore to do the time warp - again.
Sydney Morning Herald.  Come up to the lab, this show is just fab.  Bryce Hallett  February 22, 2008

A rock musical hatched in the gender-bending '70s and parodying sci-fi and horror movies from the '50s was never going to remain liberating or dangerous.

How could it? After all, a narcissistic transvestite in fishnet stockings barely raises an eyebrow in today's world of political sex scandals, the cult of celebrity and TV make-over shows cast in the mould of the Frankenstein myth.

But the director Gale Edwards (The Boy From Oz, Sweeney Todd) has created a full-throttle revival of Richard O'Brien's once-radical show that is anything but creaky or stale.

The passionately camp and atmospheric staging, resourcefully designed by Dale Ferguson, stars the sensational iOTA as the tireless and salacious predator Frank-N-Furter. He is joined in the "hunting lodge for rich weirdos" by a remarkably experienced and talented cast, including the inimitable Paul Capsis, who shines as Riff-Raff, Tamsin Carroll as Magenta, Michael Cormack as Eddie and Sharon Millerchip as Columbia.

The story, though almost threadbare, is strong on picture-palace ambience and gives plenty of scope for the protagonist's indulgences and rampant sex drive without obliterating the spiritual void at the core of Frank's warped fantasies and creation.

Despite the cartoonish limitations, the performers get to play to their strengths while inhabiting characters who need only first names to register what they represent, be it the nerdy, lost innocents Brad and Janet, or the sleek Adonis figure that is Rocky.

This incarnation of The Rocky Horror Show is worth seeing for the fantastically fearless iOTA alone. The exhilaration, vocal power and psychological detail of his energy-to-burn portrayal in Hedwig And The Angry Inch has found an outlet in the voracious Frank.

He is raunchy, dark, voracious, alert and enigmatic, as all good aliens should be. IOTA is reason enough to seek out this production, which goes a long way to erasing memories of the revivals in the '90s that limped across the footlights without making any lasting impression.

If only the recycled Star City Showroom, reborn at the Star Theatre, could go back to the operating table for a make-over.