The Rocky Horror Show Starring Jason Donovan Opens In Melbourne #REVIEW -
Jason Donovan in The Rocky Horror Show 2023 pic Daniel Boud

Jason Donovan in The Rocky Horror Show 2023 pic Daniel Boud

The Rocky Horror Show Starring Jason Donovan Opens In Melbourne #REVIEW

by Paul Cashmere on May 25, 2023

in News

The one thing that will be common in write-ups of the latest production of The Rocky Horror Show is that a lot of reviewers will overthink it.

Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show is what it is. It’s a fun sex fuelled rock and roll horror story romp.

Jason Donovan makes a great Frank’n’Furter. As the “parallel” Craig McLachlan in the 80s Jason makes an interesting choice of Frank, covering the exact same fanbase. Jason previously played the part in the 1996 production in Perth.

There are a lot of new faces in this production. Ethan Jones as Brad and Diedre Khoo as Janet step up from their minor roles in previous productions like Ethan as Doody in ‘Grease: The Arena Spectacular’ and Diedre as Rosie in ‘Mamma Mia’. Those major productions gave both actors the big show experience they have adapted to their starring roles in Rocky Horror.

Henry Rollo plays Riff Raff, Stellar Perry is Magenta, again two of the shows most important roles to the storyline. Henry had a recent role in ‘Jagged Little Pill’, Stellar is getting a great break after doing the rounds of music reality shows Australian Idol, The X Factor and The Voice. Those shows, while useless for the music industry have proved perfect for uncovering great voices for theatre.

Myf Warhurst as The Narrator gets the second top billing after Jason Donovan but that role has always been somewhat of a novelty role in Rocky Horror. The Narrator has often been cast as a “celebrity cameo”. Acting experience is not required and previous shows have had Molly Meldrum, Bert Newton, Red Simons, Derryn Hinch, Kamahl, Stuart Wagstaff, Noel Ferrier, and even a former New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon in the role. In the 2015 season in Australia, the show’s creator Richard O’Brien even played the Narrator for one week only in Melbourne.

I would imagine Myf was cast in the role for her perceived profile and while previous productions have cast the role as a point of difference, this time it struggled to work. Instead of adding to the production, this felt like a member of the audience was occasionally walking on stage and interrupting the show. There was a disconnect with the main plot.

The band for 2023 is more of a pop band than the rock ensembles I’ve heard on previous productions. That gave the songs a softer feel with the showpieces ‘The Time Warp’ and ‘Sweet Transvestite’ not packing the same punch we’ve heard before.

There is no point getting too picky. The Rocky Horror Show is a cult classic. Few shows in the theatre pack more fun into two hours than you’ll get in this. There’s no crime in giving yourself over to pleasure.

The Rocky Horror Show Australian cast 2023 photo by Daniel Boud The Rocky Horror Show Australian cast 2023 photo by Daniel Boud

Season Details:

Athenaeum Theatre Melbourne

Until 30 July, 2023

Tickets and information from

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