The Rocky Horror Show
|The Rocky Horror Show|
1974 poster at Kings Road Theatre
|Awards||Evening Standard Award for Best Musical|
The Rocky Horror Show is a musical with music, lyrics and book by Richard O'Brien. A humorous tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the late 1940s through to the early 1970s, the musical tells the story of a newly engaged couple getting caught in a storm and coming to the home of a mad transvestite scientist, Dr Frank N. Furter, unveiling his new creation, a sort of Frankenstein-style monster in the form of an artificially made, fully grown, physically perfect muscle man named Rocky Horror, complete "with blond hair and a tan".
Produced and directed by Jim Sharman, the original London production of the musical premiered at the Royal Court Theatre (Upstairs) on 19 June 1973 (after 2 previews on the 16 and 18 June 1973) before moving to several other locations in London and closing on 13 September 1980, running for a total of 2,960 performances and winning the 1973 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Musical. Its 1974 debut in the US in Los Angeles had a successful nine-month run but its 1975 Broadway debut at the Belasco Theatre lasted only three previews and forty five showings despite earning one Tony nomination and three Drama Desk nominations. Various international productions have since spanned across six continents as well as West End and Broadway revivals and eight UK tours. Actor Tim Curry, who originated the role of Dr Frank N. Furter in the original London production, became particularly associated with the musical.
The musical was adapted into the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, starring O'Brien as Riff Raff, with Curry also reprising his role, which has the longest-running release in film history. In 2016 it was adapted into the television film The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again. The musical was ranked eighth in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the "Nation's Number One Essential Musicals".
- 1 History
- 2 Synopsis
- 3 Other productions
- 4 Music
- 5 National productions
- 6 Casts
- 7 Cast recordings
- 8 Awards and nominations
- 9 Notes
- 10 External links
As an out-of-work actor in London in the early 1970s, Richard O'Brien wrote The Rocky Horror Show to keep himself busy on winter evenings. Since his youth, O'Brien had developed a passion for science fiction and B horror movies; he wanted to combine elements of the unintentional humour of B horror movies, portentous dialogue of schlock-horror, Steve Reeves muscle flicks and fifties rock and roll into The Rocky Horror Show. A major theme running throughout the musical is transvestitism, which according to O'Brien was not originally meant to be as prominent as it would end up being.
O'Brien took a small amount of his unfinished Rocky Horror to Australian director Jim Sharman, who decided he wanted to direct it at the small experimental space Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, Chelsea, London, which was used as a project space for new work. Sharman had received considerable local acclaim as the director of the original Australian productions of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. He went to London to direct the first British stage production of Superstar, during which he met O'Brien, who had played King Herod for just one performance. Sharman brought in fellow Australians Nell Campbell and long-time scenic designer partner Brian Thomson to the production.
Star Tim Curry recalled his first encounter with the script:
I'd heard about the play because I lived on Paddington Street, off Baker Street, and there was an old gym a few doors away. I saw Richard O'Brien in the street, and he said he'd just been to the gym to see if he could find a muscleman who could sing. I said, "Why do you need him to sing?" [laughs] And he told me that his musical was going to be done, and I should talk to Jim Sharman. He gave me the script, and I thought, "Boy, if this works, it's going to be a smash."
The original creative team was then rounded out by costume designer Sue Blane and musical director Richard Hartley, although Pete Moss would later take over as musical director. Michael White was also brought in to produce Rocky Horror. As the musical went into rehearsal, the working title for it became They Came from Denton High, but it was changed just before previews at the suggestion of Sharman to The Rocky Horror Show.
After two previews, the show premiered – without an interval – at the Royal Court's 63-seat Theatre Upstairs on 19 June 1973 and ran until 20 July 1973. The cast included Tim Curry, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell (billed as Little Nell), Julie Covington, and O'Brien, who made the production, which was all-out camp, a creative triumph and a critical and commercial success. Record producer Jonathan King saw it on the second night and signed the cast to make the original cast recording over a long weekend that was rushed out on his UK Records label. King was involved heavily in the initial promotion for the show as well as being the minority backer of it financially with White having a majority share.
The impact at the Royal Court Upstairs allowed the production be transferred to the 230-seat Chelsea Classic Cinema nearby on Kings Road from 14 August 1973 to 20 October 1973. Rocky Horror found a quasi-permanent home at the 500-seat King's Road Theatre (another cinema house) even further down Kings Road from 3 November 1973. The show received critical praise and won the 1973 Evening Standard Award for Best Musical.
Its run at the King's Road Theatre ended on 31 March 1979 before transferring to the Comedy Theatre (now the Harold Pinter Theatre) to begin performances on 6 April 1979. At the new venue, Rocky Horror required some restaging as it was the first theatre that the musical had played at with a traditional proscenium arch stage. For the first time, the musical was also broken into two acts with an interval. It finished its run there on 13 September 1980.
The Usherette, sometimes referred to as "Trixie", who works in a derelict cinema, introduces tonight's "film" in a song ("Science Fiction/Double Feature"), with masked Phantoms providing the backing vocals.
After attending the wedding of his best friend since high school Ralph Hapschatt, now married to Janet Weiss' friend Betty Munroe, Brad Majors confesses his love to Janet Weiss ("Dammit Janet") and the two become engaged. The Narrator appears and explains that Brad and Janet are leaving Denton to visit Dr. Everett Scott, their former science tutor, while driving into a rainstorm. During the trip, their car has a flat tire and they are forced to walk through the rain to seek a telephone in an old castle ("There's A Light").
The Narrator explains that Brad and Janet are feeling "apprehensive and uneasy," but must accept any help that they are offered. As Brad and Janet arrive, Riff Raff, the hunchbacked handyman and live-in butler, greets them, and his sister Magenta, the maid, appears. Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia (a groupie) speak briefly of an unlucky delivery boy named Eddie who fell victim to unfortunate circumstances because he botched a delivery, before performing the show's signature dance number ("The Time Warp"*). Brad and Janet try to leave at this point, but are stopped when Dr. Frank N. Furter, a pansexual, cross-dressing mad scientist, arrives. He introduces himself as "a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania" and invites Brad and Janet up to his laboratory ("Sweet Transvestite"). As he goes up, Brad and Janet are stripped to their underwear to dry off.
Brad and Janet enter the laboratory, where Frank N. Furter gives them laboratory coats to wear. Frank announces that he has discovered the secret to life itself. He unveils his creation, a blond, well-built man named Rocky Horror, who is brought to life. As his bandages are removed, Rocky worries about his predicament ("The Sword of Damocles"). Frank admires Rocky's physique by singing a tribute to muscle builders ("Charles Atlas Song"/"I Can Make You a Man"**). A Coca-Cola freezer in the laboratory opens to reveal Frank and Columbia's former lover, Eddie, a biker covered in surgical scars, who has been rendered a (slightly more) brain-damaged zombie, intent on rescuing Columbia, and escaping the castle while successfully causing large amounts of damage to Frank's laboratory, exhibiting signs of partially returning memory of the way he lived life in the past ("Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul"). Frank panics, forces Eddie back into the freezer and hacks him to death (his weapon of choice typically being a pick axe or chainsaw). Frank tells Rocky — the recipient of the other half of Eddie's brain — that he prefers him over Eddie ("Charles Atlas Song (Reprise)"/"I Can Make You a Man (Reprise)"**), as although he and Eddie had a strong mental relationship, he had no muscle, and therefore, had to go. Brad and Janet, somewhat flustered after witnessing the re-murdering of Eddie, are then ushered to separate bedrooms for the night.
The Narrator foreshadows that Brad and Janet may be unsafe. Janet enjoys Brad's advances in her darkened bedroom before realizing that it is Frank in disguise. He convinces Janet that pleasure is no crime, and after she asks him to promise not to tell Brad, they resume their lovemaking. The scene changes to Brad's darkened bedroom, where Brad makes love to Janet before discovering that, once again, it is Frank in disguise. Frank promises not to tell Janet, but as they resume, Riff Raff interrupts on the television monitor with the message that Rocky has escaped. Janet searches for Brad in the laboratory and discovers Rocky hiding there. Checking the television monitor, Janet sees Brad in bed with Frank and seduces Rocky ("Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me"). While searching the television monitor for Rocky, the rest of the group discovers that Janet has slept with him and Brad becomes hurt and angry ("Once in a While"). Riff Raff then notifies Frank that there is another visitor entering the castle: Dr. Everett Scott, the paraplegic science tutor whom Brad and Janet intended to visit.
Dr. Scott is pushed into the laboratory by Columbia where Frank accuses him and Brad of trying to investigate his castle, knowing that Dr. Scott has connections with the FBI. Dr. Scott assures him that he has come in search of Eddie, who is revealed to be his nephew ("Eddie's Teddy"). Frank displays Eddie's corpse to the group and then uses a device to electronically restrain the three visitors and a rebellious Rocky to the floor ("Planet Schmanet Janet"); the inhabitants of the castle are revealed to be space aliens led by Frank, who abandoned their original mission in order to engage in kinky sex with Earthlings and work on Rocky. Magenta insists that they return to their home planet now that they have been found out; Frank refuses and, instead, declares his intentions to put on a "floor show".
Under Frank's influence, Columbia, Rocky, Brad, and Janet perform song and dance routines while clad in lingerie ("Rose Tint My World (Floor Show)"). After, Frank entices them to lose all inhibition and give in to their natural carnal instincts, resulting in everyone beginning to engage in orgiastic sex ("Don't Dream It – Be It") before Frank leads them into the rousing concluding number of the floor show ("Wild and Untamed Thing"). The show comes to an abrupt end when Riff Raff and Magenta enter, wearing spacesuits and carrying ray guns. Riff Raff declares that he is usurping Frank's authority and taking them all back to their home planet ("Transit Beam"). Frank makes a final plea for sympathy from Riff Raff, trying to make him understand his desire to spend the rest of his life having sex with Earthlings ("I'm Going Home"). Riff Raff is unmoved and guns down Columbia, Frank, and Rocky before ordering Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott to leave.
As the trio evacuates the castle, Riff Raff and Magenta express their excitement to return to their world and do the "Time Warp" again with their fellow Transylvanians ("Spaceship"). Brad and Janet watch as the castle blasts off into outer space, confused about the implications of their sexual escapades ("Super Heroes"). To conclude his tale, the Narrator says "and crawling on the planet's face, insects called the human race, lost in time, and lost in space – and meaning." As the show ends, The Usherette returns to recount the night's events ("Science Fiction/Double Feature (Reprise)").
- In the original London and Los Angeles productions, "Sweet Transvestite" came before "Time Warp". This was changed for the film version and was subsequently updated for the stage version when O'Brien revised the script for the 1990 West End revival.
- "Charles Atlas Song" was replaced by a reworked version of the song, "I Can Make You a Man", for the film version. O'Brien's revision of the script in 1990 featured a hybrid of the two songs under the title "I Can Make You a Man", in the 1999 revised script this song was replaced by the film, which continues to be used in all major productions. The reprise remains unchanged except for the title.
Original Los Angeles production (American premiere)
Lou Adler had made millions with risky ventures such as Monterey Pop. His record label, Ode Records was becoming known for harvesting experimental talent. In late winter of 1973, Adler was in London and attended a performance of the show with Britt Ekland. Acting on impulse and seeing a hit, he met backstage with producers and within 36 hours had secured the American theatrical rights.
The show premiered at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles on 24 March 1974, running for nine months. The cast was all new except for Tim Curry and O'Brien. The show played to a full house and a deal was made with 20th Century Fox for a film. Fox executive Gordon Stulberg saw the show at the Roxy and agreed to invest $1 million in the film project. Adler's attempt to turn his club into a playhouse was successful. The singer Meat Loaf remembers different celebrities who would come to the show resulting in him meeting Elvis Presley at a performance. Senator Al Franken was a young lighting apprentice brought in by Sid Strong. He recalls Adler had the show mounted by producer Brian Avnet and that both Curry and O'Brien were brought in from the UK.
Original Sydney production (Australian premiere)
Harry M. Miller produced the original Sydney production of Rocky Horror, which opened on 15 April 1974, running for almost two years in the New Arts Cinema (formerly The Astor, later The Valhalla and now an office building) in Glebe. It starred Reg Livermore, Jane Harders, Kate Fitzpatrick, Arthur Dignam, Sal Sharah, John Paramor, Graham Matters, Bob Hudson, and Maureen Elkner.
Original Melbourne production
After eighteen months in Sydney, the show moved to Melbourne, where it opened at the Regent Palace Theatre in October 1975. It ran for another eighteen months and 458 performances, finally closing in May 1977. The Melbourne production starred Max Phipps as Frank N. Furter. Other actors included Joan Brockenshire as Magenta, Clive Blackie as Rocky, and Shirley Anne Kear as Janet.
Original New York City (Broadway) production
In early 1975, Adler closed the show at the Roxy Theatre after a ten-month run. This gave actors time to return to the UK for film version's shooting. Adler planned to open on Broadway just before the film's release. It was anticipated that this production would be as successful as Jesus Christ Superstar and serve as a public vehicle for the film version. It was unsuccessful and closed after 45 performances.
Original San Francisco production
The third U.S. production opened at the Montgomery Playhouse in San Francisco on 3 February 1976 and played 103 performances, closing on 30 May. The San Francisco production was directed by A. Michael Amarino, with musical direction and arrangements by Michael Reno. The production had a new cast and starred David James as Frank. The opening night cast included Roslyn Roseman as Usherette/Magenta, Needa Greene as Janet, Robert Reynolds as Brad, Richard Gee as the Narrator, Buddy King as Riff Raff, Paula Desmond as Columbia, Bob Dulaney as Rocky, and Emil Borelli as Eddie/Dr. Scott, with back-up vocals by Vikki D'Orazi, William J. Tacke, and Kelly St. John.
Second London (West End) production
The Rocky Horror Show transferred to the 820-seat Comedy Theatre on Panton Street in the West End, running from 6 April 1979 until 13 September 1980, closing the play's initial run of 2,960 performances. After occasional productions in the early 1980s, the play was revived for the Theatre Royal, Hanley tour in 1984 and still is performed regularly in the UK.
At the Classic Cinema and King's Road Theatre (Formerly the Essoldo Cinema), the following songs were added: "I Can Make You a Man", a reprise of the same and "Eddie's Teddy".
The Rocky Horror Show has toured the United Kingdom regularly since the 1990–91 West End revival at the Piccadilly Theatre in productions produced by Richard O'Brien's and Howard Panter's Rocky Horror Company. Notable celebrities have been cast including Tim McInnerny, Anthony Head, Robin Cousins, Jason Donovan, Gina Bellman as Janet Weiss and Jonathan Wilkes as Frank N. Furter, Edward Tudor-Pole as Riff Raff and TV's Craig Ferguson and Adrian Edmonson as Brad Majors.
Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show completed its 2006–2007 tour on 14 July 2007 in Woking, Surrey after touring for almost eighteen months. The tour was directed by Christopher Luscombe and featured David Bedella as Frank. The 2006 tour cast, accompanied by Roger Lloyd-Pack as the Narrator and author O'Brien, performed "The Time Warp" live in Trafalgar Square on 22 July 2006 as part of The Big Dance event and was broadcast on BBC1's Dancing in the Street. In 2008 David Bedella released his first album The Dean St. Sessions, produced by Nathan Amzi, which included a duet with O'Brien singing "I'm Going Home" as a bonus video.
In March 2009, the show returned with a new UK tour starting in the autumn. With Christopher Luscombe returning as the director, the tour was a revival of the 2006–2007 production with some adjustments to the direction, lighting, choreography, costumes and musical arrangements. The tour opened on 17 September 2009 at the New Wimbledon Theatre and closed on 4 December 2010 at the newly opened Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.
The first leg of the tour ran from September 2009 to July 2010 with a short break over the Christmas period. David Bedella reprised his role as Frank. The second leg of the tour began on 1 September 2010 at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking with several changes to the cast. During the UK tour's summer break director Christopher Luscombe and the show's creative team recreated the UK production in Seoul, South Korea with a new cast of American, Australian and New Zealander actors and local celebrities as the Narrator. The production played from August until October 2010 before a five-week New Zealand tour in November and December with Richard O'Brien making a rare appearance as the Narrator.
2012–13 UK tour
In December 2012, a new production of the Rocky Horror Show began a year-long UK tour to celebrate the show's 40th anniversary.
Christopher Luscombe has returned to direct the production which stars Oliver Thornton as Frank N. Furter, Ben Forster (winner of ITV1 series Superstar) as Brad Majors until February 2013, Roxanne Pallett (of Emmerdale) as Janet Weiss until May 2013 and Rhydian Roberts (of The X Factor) as Rocky until March 2013. Unlike recent productions, the tour will not feature interchanging guest Narrators with Philip Franks taking on the role.
The show also features Kristian Lavercombe returning to the role of Riff Raff, Abigail Jaye as Magenta/Usherette, Ceris Hine reprising the role of Columbia, Joel Montague as Eddie/Dr. Scott, and Maria Coyne, Christos Dante, David Gale, and Rachel Grundy as the Phantoms, with Andrew Ahern as the swing.
40th Anniversary broadcast/2015-16 UK tour
In 2015, the 40th anniversary tour was staged in the London Playhouse Theatre and also broadcast in many cinemas across Europe, as well as on BBC in October 2015, with Richard O'Brien taking the role as narrator for the London dates only. On opening night, he received seven standing ovations when appearing on-stage. Tickets for the first week sold out in 72 hours so a second week was added. A charity gala night on 17 September at the Playhouse featured actors Stephen Fry, Anthony Head and former Spice Girl Emma Bunton sharing the role of narrator. A UK-wide tour followed the London production.
2014–2015 Australian Tour
In January 2014, a new Australian tour of the UK production began to celebrate the show's 40th anniversary. While keeping a similar stage to the one in the UK Tour, it featured a new cast with Craig McLachlan reprising the role of Frank, which he played in the 1992 Australian Production. Additional cast members include Tim Maddren as Brad, Christie Whelan Browne as Janet, Ashlea Pyke as Columbia, Erika Heynatz as Magenta/Usherette, Nicholas Christo as Eddie/Dr. Scott, Brendan Irving as Rocky, and Tony Farrell as the Narrator. Kristian Lavercombe reprises his role of Riff Raff from both the UK Tour and the New Zealand production. The Phantoms are played by Vincent Hooper, Luigi Lucente, Meghan O'Shea, Angela Scundi, and James Maxfield.
The Tour premiered in Brisbane on 10 January 2014 at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and ran until 9 February.
The tour then transferred to Perth's Crown Theatre and ran from 16 February 2014 to 9 March 2014.
The performance transferred to the Adelaide Festival Centre to run from 21 March 2014 to 13 April 2014 with a preview on 20 March 2014. Richard O'Brien took over the role of the Narrator for the run in Adelaide.
The performance then transferred to the Melbourne Comedy Theatre. It ran from 26 April 2014 with previews from 23 April 2014 before finishing its run on 22 June 2014.
The tour then took a break due to scheduling conflicts and McLachlan's involvement in The Doctor Blake Mysteries before transferring to the Sydney Lyric Theatre where it ran from 15 April 2015 to 7 June 2015. It featured new additional replacement cast members which included Stephen Mahy as Brad, Amy Lehpamer as Janet, Angelique Cassimatis as Columbia, Jayde Westaby as Magenta/Usherette, and Bert Newton as the Narrator. The Phantoms are played by Darren Tyler, Drew Weston, and Suzanne Steele.
The performance then returned for its final encore back at the Melbourne Comedy Theatre. It ran from 12 June 2015 before concluding on 19 July 2015 after being extended for one additional week due to popular demand. O'Brien took over the role of the Narrator for a week in Melbourne.
1980 North American production
The Rocky Horror Show toured North America. The cast featured Frank Gregory as Frank N. Furter, Marcia Mitzman as Janet, Frank Piergo as Brad, Pendleton Brown as Riff Raff, Lorelle Brina as Magenta/Trixie, C. J. Critt as Columbia, Kim Milford as Rocky, and Steve Lincoln as the Narrator.
2000 Broadway revival
The Rocky Horror Show had a longer revival on Broadway from October 2000 to January 2002 at the Circle in the Square Theatre and featured Tom Hewitt (later Terrance Mann) as Frank N. Furter, Alice Ripley as Janet, Jarrod Emick (also Luke Perry) as Brad, Raúl Esparza (later Sebastian Bach) as Riff Raff, Joan Jett as Columbia/Usherette (later Ana Gasteyer), Lea DeLaria (later Jason Wooten) as Eddie/Dr. Scott, and Daphne Rubin-Vega as Magenta.
From October 2001 to January 2002, several guest celebrities played the Narrator role normally performed by Dick Cavett (Kate Clinton took over for a week while Cavett was on vacation), including Gilbert Gottfried, Sally Jesse Raphael, Robin Leach, magicians Penn & Teller, New York Post columnist Cindy Adams, MTV personality Dave Holmes, and talk show host Jerry Springer. It is suggested that the revival, like other shows running at the time, closed early because of financial losses during the time following 9/11. The Revival was nominated for the following Tony Awards: Best Actor: Tom Hewitt; Best Costume Designer: David C. Woolard; Best Director: Christopher Ashley; and Best Musical Revival.
In August 2010, a new production based on the 2009–10 UK Tour opened in Seoul, South Korea starring Juan Jackson as Frank N. Furter and Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff with an international cast. Following the seven-week run the production commenced a limited tour of New Zealand in November 2010, playing at theatres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch with Richard O'Brien as the Narrator. UK Tour actors Richard Meek and Haley Flaherty reprised their roles as Brad and Janet for the final week of the New Zealand run, flying out days after the end of the UK production in December 2010.
Based on the 2009–10 UK Tour and following runs in South Korea and New Zealand in 2010, Christopher Luscombe's international touring production ended at the Esplanade Theatre, Singapore, in January 2012. The international cast was joined by local stage and screen actor Hossan Leong as the Narrator whilst two further UK Tour actors joined the company with Kara Lane and Daniela Valvano reprising their roles as Magenta/Usherette and Phantom, respectively. This production was the first uncensored version of The Rocky Horror Show to be performed in Singapore with the previous 1993 production having been toned down. The film adaptation was banned until 2003.
Awards and nominations
The original London production won the award for Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards in 1973. Additionally, both the original Broadway production and the 2000 revival of the musicals have accrued nominations for both Tony Awards and Drama Desk Awards.
Original London production
|1973||Evening Standard Award||Best Musical||Won|
Original Broadway production
|1975||Tony Award||Best Lighting Design||Chip Monk||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Tim Curry||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Boni Enten||Nominated|
|Unique Theatrical Experience||Nominated|
2001 Broadway revival
|2001||Tony Award||Best Revival of a Musical||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Tom Hewitt||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Christopher Ashley||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||David C. Woolard||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Revival of a Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Tom Hewitt||Nominated|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Christopher Ashley||Nominated|
|Outstanding Choreography||Jerry Mitchell||Nominated|
|Outstanding Set Design of a Musical||David Rockwell||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Raúl Esparza||Won|
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