WHEN you arrive at the Alhambra surrounded by other-worldly beings in wigs and white lab coats, fishnets and feather boas, it can only mean one thing. The Rocky Horror Show is in town.

It was quite touching, after the long absence from live theatre, too see last night's opening night audience embrace the cult show. Next year is the 50th anniversary of Richard O’Brien’s weird and wonderful musical and it continues to thrill new generations of devotees.

It’s been years since I last saw this show (most of the cast wouldn’t have even been born the first time I saw it), but the Time Warp never leaves you...

It's a rock ‘n’ roll musical, an affectionate pastiche of 1950s sci-fi B-movies, but with gender, identity, sexual liberation and freedom of spirit at its heart, the Rocky Horror Show was perhaps ahead of its time when it opened in a tiny upstairs theatre back in 1973.

It begins with clean-cut sweethearts Brad and Janet, whose car breaks down on a stormy night, leading them to a spooky castle which they soon discover is home to Dr Frank N Furter, a cross-dressing scientist and chainsaw-wielding hedonist. When he sets about seducing his nerdy house guests, it turns into quite the night for Brad and Janet.

The show rests largely on whoever is playing Frank, and charismatic Stephen Webb did the role proud. Outrageous, hilarious, deranged and ultimately quite lost, he had us in the palm of his pink Marigolds. My only gripe was that the build-up to his first appearance, the bold Sweet Transvestite number, was over too quickly and lacked the excitement that traditionally makes it such a tantalising show-stopper.

"Boring!" cries the audience whenever the Narrator appears - and the excellent Philip Franks took it all in his stride in a terrific scene-stealing turn; taking control of the lively crowd and batting off obligatory heckles with old-school charm and razor sharp ad-libbing.

Ore Oduba and Haley Flaherty were endearingly geeky as Brad and Janet, each with great comic timing and impressive singing voices, and Lauren Ingram lit up the stage as kooky Columbia. I enjoyed Joe Allen as both Eddie and Dr Scott and Ben Westhead brought the muscle as Frank's creation, Rocky. 

But it was Kristian Lavercombe and Suzie McAdam as creepy Transylvanian servants Riff Raff and Magenta that were my favourites; delivering the full-on absurdity of Rocky Horror with exquisite performances.

With sing-along high energy numbers including Hot Patootie (Bless My Soul) and mega crowd-pleaser Time Warp set against Hugh Durrant's Gothic set, this is a madcap corker of a show. Great fun.

* Runs at the Alhambra until Saturday.