The new Australian take on Rocky Horror is so racy it even surprised its English writer, writes Muriel Reddy.

The latest production of The Rocky Horror Show features a veritable who's who of Australian theatre and music.
    It is co-produced by Paul Dainty, directed by Gale Edwards (remember The Boy from Oz and Jesus Christ Superstar), choreographed by John O'Connell (think Moulin Rouge and Shall We Dance with Julie Lynch taking credit for the wonderfully outrageous costumes.
    The cast includes the renowned Melbourne-born cabaret star Paul Capsis, Tamsin Carroll, Sharon Millerchip, Michael Cormick and Kellie Rode.
    The magic they create has made a raunchy rocker of a piece that might, arguably, have been written off at the grand old age of 35.
    Its English writer, Richard O'Brien, who flew in for the Sydney opening night, reportedly found the new production confronting.  That's quite a statement given that his work is written to be provocative, naughty, absolutely shocking and delicious.
    Under the direction of Edwards, The Rocky Horror Show goes to a darker place than any previous production.     And it might have gone even darker has the English co-producers not had their way.  Singer iOta says: "The English productions tend to be very much like a concert with people yelling out and heckling, which I can't stand.  I find it incredibly distracting.  They wanted to bring that to this production and none of us was very happy about it.
    "Anyway, having said that, they made changes and you know it still feels like the show is new and fresh.  I believe that it is one of the better productions that there has been."
    To Paul Dainty, a man who has helped to shape the dace of this country's entertainment industry, The Rocky Horror Show is like a bottle of wine that gets better with age.
    "It has great heritage.  We didn't want to mess with the heart and soul of the show but we wanted to bring it into 2008," Dainty says.
    Edwards says she was excited to create a new production that would be relevant in the 21st century.
    "Basically I had the possibility of reinventing what is a masterpiece.  And it is a masterpiece because it has withstood the test of time. "I wanted to bring an imaginative freshness to it.  One of the challenges as a director was to give it that freshness.  I think we have managed to preserve what was true about it," she says.