|The Rocky Horror Show|
|Original Cast Recording|
|Productions||1973 West End
1974 Los Angeles
1990 West End
1998 UK Tour
2000 Broadway revival
2002 UK Tour
2006 UK Tour
2008 Australian Tour
2008 European Tour
|Awards||1973 Evening Standard Drama Award, Best Musical
1973 Plays and Players Award, Best New Musical
The Rocky Horror Show is a long-running British stage musical, opening in London on 19 June 1973. It was written by Richard O'Brien, and developed by O'Brien in collaboration with Australian theater director Jim Sharman. It came eighth in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the "Nation's Number One Essential Musicals".
Jim Sharman's success with the original Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar led to an invitation to direct the first London stage production, and it was during the London run of Superstar that he met Richard O'Brien, who had played Herod for just one performance. O'Brien wished to play Herod as Elvis, but quit Superstar when the producers asked him to tap-dance. While unemployed, O'Brien worked on a new rock musical with a rough-draft title of "Rock Horroar."
While working together at the Royal Court's Theatre Upstairs on a production of Sam Shepard's The Unseen Hand, O'Brien played Sharman some of the songs he had written and they began to flesh out the concept for the show. Sharman brought in fellow Australians Nell Campbell, a.k.a. 'Little Nell,' and longtime production designer Brian Thomson, who had designed his productions of Hair and Superstar. Costume designer Sue Blane and musical director Richard Hartley rounded out the original creative team.
The musical went into rehearsals with the working title "They Came from Denton High," which was changed just before previews at Sharman's suggestion to The Rocky Horror Show.
After two previews, The Rocky Horror Show premiered at the 63-seat Theatre Upstairs on 19 June 1973 and ran until 20 July 1973. The theatre was run by the Royal Court as a project space for new work. Veteran stage producer Michael White produced the play and Pete Moss later became musical director. The production was a critical and commercial success. Record producer Jonathan King saw it on the second night and signed the cast to make the Original Soundtrack Album over a long weekend which was rushed out on his UK Records label. King was heavily involved in the initial promotion for the show as well as being the other 20% backer of it financially with White. The production transferred to the Classic Cinema on Kings Road from 14 August 1973 to 20 October 1973, a run-down 270-seat venue scheduled for demolition. Transferring again to the Kings Road Theatre, a 350-seat converted cinema, the production ran from 3 November 1973 through 31 March 1979 with many cast changes, until plans for the theatre's demolition prompted another move. The Rocky Horror Show transferred to the 820-seat Comedy Theatre on Panton Street in the West End, the legitimate London theatre district, 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 eighties, the play was revived for the Theatre Royal Hanley tour in 1984, and is still performed regularly in the UK.
The Usherette 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 Ralph Hapshatt and Betty Munroe, Brad Majors confesses his love to Janet Weiss ("Dammit, Janet!") and the two become engaged. The narrator appears to explain 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 ("Over at the Frankenstein Place").
The narrator explains that Brad and Janet are feeling "apprehensive and uneasy," but must accept any help they are offered. As Brad and Janet arrive, they are greeted by Riff Raff, the hunchbacked handyman. After he leaves to fetch his master, Brad and Janet begin to try and dry off. Riff Raff returns with Magenta, the maid and Riff Raff's sister, and Columbia, Frank N. Furter's "groupie." At this point, Frank N. Furter, a bisexual mad scientist, arrives. He introduces himself as "a Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania" and invites Brad and Janet to his laboratory ("Sweet Transvestite"). Magenta and Columbia speak briefly of an unlucky delivery boy named Eddie. Then Riff Raff, Magenta, and Columbia perform the show's big dance number "Time Warp".
Brad and Janet enter the laboratory, where Frank N. Furter gives them lab 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 N. Furter admires Rocky's physique by singing a tribute to muscle builders ("I Can Make You a Man"). A Coca-Cola freezer in the laboratory opens to reveal Frank's former lover, Eddie, a biker covered in surgical scars. Eddie—now rendered a sort of zombie after having part of his brain removed by Frank—contemplates his new existence and recalls his former life. ("Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul"). Frank panics, forces Eddie back into the machine, and hacks him to death with an axe. Frank tells Rocky—the recipient of the other half of Eddie's brain—that he prefers him to Eddie ("I Can Make You a Man (Reprise)"). Brad and Janet are then ushered to separate bedrooms for the night.
The narrator explains that Brad and Janet may not be quite safe. Janet enjoys Brad's advances in her darkened bedroom before realizing that it is in fact 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 TV monitor with the message that Rocky has escaped. Janet searches for Brad in the laboratory, and discovers Rocky hiding there. Checking the TV monitor, Janet sees Brad in bed with Frank, and seduces Rocky ("Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch Me"). While searching the TV 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 N. Furter there is another visitor entering the castle: Dr. Everett Scott, the wheelchair-using science tutor Brad and Janet intended to visit.
Dr. Scott is pushed into the laboratory by Columbia, and Frank N. Furter accuses him and Brad of trying to investigate his castle. Dr. Scott assures him he has come in search of Eddie, his nephew ("Eddie"). Frank N. Furter displays Eddie's corpse to the group and then uses a device to electronically restrain the three visitors and a rebellious Columbia to the floor ("Planet Shmanet 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've 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"). Afterwards, Frank entices them to lose all inhibition and give in to their basest carnal instincts, resulting in everyone beginning to engage in orgiastic sex ("Don't Dream It- Be It") before they're interrupted by Frank, who leads them into the concluding number of the floor show ("Wild and Untamed Thing"). The show comes to an abrupt end when Riff Raff and Magenta enter, wearing space suits and carrying ray guns. Riff Raff declares that he is usurping Frank's authority and taking everyone back to their home planet. Frank makes a last-ditch 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.
The trio evacuates the castle as it blasts off into outer space, confused about the implications of their sexual escapades ("Superheroes"). The Narrator says " ... crawling on the planet's face, tiny insects called the human race, lost in time, and lost in space - and meaning." As the show ends, The Usherette returns to sing "Science Fiction - Double Feature (Reprise)."
Australia was the first country to mount a production of The Rocky Horror Show after the Great Britain and the USA. Since then, the show has been performed more frequently in Australia than anywhere else in the world. With numerous successive revivals and long-running national tours, the show seemed to run almost continuously in Australia from 1974 to 1998.
The original Australian production of The Rocky Horror Show premiered in Sydney on 15 April 1974, at the New Arts Cinema, Glebe. The production included staff and cast members who had worked on both Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, including Reg Livermore as Frank N. Furter, director Jim Sharman, designer Brian Thomson and producer-promoter Harry M. Miller. Kate Fitzpatrick starred as Usherette/Magenta, David Cameron as Eddie, and Graham Matters as Rocky. John Paramor and Jane Harders starred as Brad and Janet.
After 18 months in Sydney, the show moved to Melbourne, where it opened at the Regent Palace Theatre (in the suburb of Fitzroy) in October 1975. Sal Sharah, who played Riff-Raff, was the only member of the original Sydney cast to reprise his role in Melbourne. The Melbourne production, directed by Roland Roccheccioli, otherwise featured Max Phipps as Frank N. Furter, Gregory Apps as Brad, Paula Maxwell as Janet, Tommy Dysart as the Narrator and Robyn Moase as Magenta. It ran for another 18 months, finally closing on May 1977. During that time, there were a number of cast replacements, including Stephen Clarke as Brad, Diana Greentree as Janet and Joan Brockenshire (Mrs Tommy Dysart) as Magenta.
The show then transferred to Adelaide in South Australia, where it opened on 12 August 1977. Dysart, Brockenshire and Greentree reprised their roles from the Melbourne production, with Tony Preece as Brad, Keith Reid as Riff-Raff and Shane Bourne as Rocky. Frank N. Furter was initially played by Darrell Hilton, who was replaced after a few days by Max Phipps and then, several weeks later, by Jon Finlayson. The Adelaide production was not as successful as the two previous ones, and closed after only two months.
Australia's first regional production was mounted less than a year later by the Riverina Trucking Company, a theatre company based in Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. Opened on 5 August 1978, this production ran for a limited season of three weeks. It was directed by Terry O'Connell, who also played the role Frank N. Furter. In July 1981, the same company mounted a second production of the show, with O'Connell in the lead role and few other members of the earlier cast.
Towards the end of 1981, following the publicity surrounding the film Shock Treatment, a new Australian production of The Rocky Horror Show was planned, with the involvement of the show's original designer, Brian Thomson. Produced by Wilton Morely and directed by the Japanese-Canadian choreographer/director David Toguri, the revival opened in Sydney on 6 October 1981. Frank N. Furter was played by Englishman Daniel Abineri who had previously played the role in the first British tour in 1979 and for a year in the West End in 1980. The rest of the cast was filled by local film and TV actors including Antoinette Byron as Janet, Luz Yeomans as Magenta, Jay Hackett as Rocky, Steve J. Spears as Eddie/Dr Scott and Stuart Wagstaff as the Narrator. The production (which spawned a 'mini' cast LP of four songs) transferred to Melbourne in January 1982 with most of the same cast. New additions included punk-cabaret artist Ignatius Jones as Eddie/Dr Scott, and former London cast member Perry Bedden reprising his role as Riff-Raff. For three weeks in February, Stuart Wagstaff was replaced by "special guest narrator", Ian "Molly" Meldrum. During the Adelaide leg of the tour, the Narrator was played by Noel Ferrier.
Wilton Morley revived the show in 1984 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the original Australian production, and cast the show's original Frank N. Furter, Reg Livermore (then 45 years old) in the same role. This production was directed by former Frank Daniel Abineri, with Stuart Wagstaff again as the narrator. The remaining cast included Wayne Pygram, who had played Rocky in the Riverina Trucking Company production back in 1978, and American actress Natalie Moscoe as Magenta.
In 1985, the revival opened in Adelaide, where the original show had flopped back in 1977. The cast included Graham Matters (who had played Rocky in the original 1974 Australian production), Maria Mercedes, Glen Shorrock and popular TV stars Victoria Nicholls and Ken James.
Morley's production was re-launched yet again in 1986, with Daniel Abineri both as director and in the lead role of Frank N. Furter This time, the tour commenced in New Zealand, where its cast included local actors Andrew Binns as Brad, Ann Wilson as Janet, Andrea Cunningham as Magenta/The Usherette Trixie, Rachel King as Columbia and a young Russell Crowe as Eddie/Dr Scott. For a brief stint, former New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon appeared as the Narrator. The production then toured Australia for several years, during which time the narrator was variously played by Gordon Chater, Stuart Wagstaff and others. The production ended with a second New Zealand tour, which was directed by Terry O'Connell (late of the Riverina Trucking Company productions) with Simon Westaway (who had previously played Brad in the Australian tour) as Frank N. Furter. The rest of the cast mainly comprised New Zealand talent, including actor/director John Banas and comedian Billy T James alternating as the Narrator.
In 1992, a new production was launched by producer Paul Dainty (in conjunction with a local radio station) under the title The New Rocky Horror Show. Directed and designed by Nigel Triffit, this production premiered in Melbourne on 2 July 1992. The cast consisted of local TV actors and comedians, headed by Craig McLachlan as Frank N. Furter, with Gina Riley as Janet, Peter Rowsthorn as Riff-Raff, Wilbur Wilde as Eddie/Dr Scott, and Red Symons as the Narrator. The original Brad, comedian Stephen Kearney (formerly of stand-up duo Los Trios Ringbarkus), was later replaced by Glenn Butcher. A cast album was recorded, which included, as a bonus track, a special version of "The Time Warp" performed by the entire cast. This album was produced and arranged by former Sherbet band member Garth Porter, who had also been involved with Craig McLachlan's recent solo recording career.
With a million-dollar stage set and a cast full of celebrities, this, like previous productions, continued on tour for several years. Craig McLachlan was replaced in the role of Frank N. Furter by soap actor Marcus Graham. During 1996-97, the production toured Adelaide and Hong Kong, with a cast that included former Boom Crash Opera lead singer Dale Ryder as Frank N. Furter and comedian George Kapiniaris as Riff-Raff.
In 1998, Paul Dainty launched another production of The New Rocky Horror Show to mark to 25th anniversary of the original London production. This opened at the Star City Casino in Sydney on 29 July 1998. Several members of the 1992 cast reprised their roles, including Glenn Butcher as Brad, Peter Rowsthorn as Riff-Raff, Wilbur Wilde as Eddie/Dr Scott, and Red Symons as the Narrator. Frank N. Furter was played by comedian Tim Ferguson, with Tottie Goldsmith as Janet and ex-Gladiator Ron Reeve as Rocky. During the run, MOR crooner Kamahl appeared as a guest narrator, and New Zealand-born actor Jay Laga'aia as a guest Eddie/Dr Scott.
In November 2004, a special charity performance of The Rocky Horror Show was performed at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, with a cast made up almost entitrely of members of the popular TV soap Neighbours. In a world first, the role of Frank N. Furter was performed by a woman - in this case, Maria Mercedes, who was then playing Lucia Cammeniti in Neighbours. A musical theatre veteran, Mercedes has previously appeared in the Adelaide production of The Rocky Horror Show back in 1985.
'A brand spanking new production' of "Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show" premiered at Sydney's Star City Casino in the brand new Star Theatre on 12 February 2008. Ironically, the show opened a week after the long-running audience participation screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show was closed down by Sydney's George Street Cinemas due to poor audience numbers. The cast of the stage production includes iOTA as Frank N. Furter, Paul Capsis as Riff Raff, Tamsin Carroll as Magenta/The Usherette, Sharon Millerchip as Columbia, Michael Cormick as Eddie/Dr. Scott, Simon Farrow as Rocky, Andrew Bevis as Brad, Kellie Rhode as Janet and John Waters as The Narrator.
The production moved on to Melbourne's Comedy Theatre, where it opened on 18 September 2008. The role of the Narrator was played by Derryn Hinch, although Gretel Killeen subsequently appeared as a 'guest narrator' for ten days in November. On 20 November, a special performance was held that included popular radio personalities Jo Stanley and Matt Tilley (of The Matt and Jo Show), Hamish Blake and Andy Lee (aka comedy duo Hamish & Andy), Adam Richard and Troy Ellis. Following the end of the Melbourne season, the production embarked upon a national tour, taking in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
The Rocky Horror Show continues to be a revival favourite, with new productions and tours appearing regularly worldwide. Fans dress up as the characters, shout "call-backs" at the stage, and use props at appropriate moments, such as water pistols and newspapers during a scene in the rain. Many theatres no longer allow this.
In October, 2008 a five week limited engagement of The Rocky Horror Show was presented by Ray of Light Theatre in San Francisco. The often sold-out production played at the historic Victoria Theatre in San Francisco's Mission District. The cast included San Francisco drag artist, Jef Valentine, as Frank. Rebecca Pingree (Janet), Sarah Kathleen Farrel (Columbia) and Cate Caplin (DIrector/Choreographer) were all nominated for Bay Area Critics Circle Awards along with the production as a whole (Best Musical).
The Rocky Horror Show (now under the title Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show) completed its 2006 tour on the 14th of July, 2007, in Woking, England after touring for almost eighteen months. Famous narrators of the current tour have included Michael Aspel, Nigel Planer, Clive Mantle, Russ Abbot, Steve Pemberton, John McArdle, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Ian Lavender, Shaun Williamson, Andy Gray, Jack Ellis, Brian Capron, Russell Grant and Christopher Biggins, who'd previously been a 'Transylvanian' in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The 2006 tour was directed by Christopher Luscombe and featured David Bedella as Frank N. Furter, Suzanne Shaw as Janet, Matthew Cole as Brad, Iain Davey as Riff Raff, Shona White as The Usherette/Magenta, Kay Murphy as Columbia, Julian Essex-Spurrier as Rocky and Nathan Amzi as Eddie/Dr. Scott with Sarah Boulton, Stuart Ellis, Lynden O'Neill and Claire Parrish as the Phantoms. After a Christmas season at the Comedy Theatre, London, the tour continued with several cast changes including Richard Meek as Brad, Sarah Boulton and later Hayley Tamaddon as Janet, Matt Harrop as Riff Raff, Claire Parrish as The Usherette/Magenta, Sarah French-Ellis and later Sarah Boulton as Columbia and Sergio Priftis as Rocky with Lauren Appleby, Erin Carter and Kevin Littlejohn as the Phantoms and Bedella, Amzi and Ellis retaining their original roles.
The 2006 tour cast, accompanied by Roger Lloyd-Pack as the Narrator and author Richard O'Brien, performed "The Time Warp" live in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 22 July 2006 as part of The Big Dance event and was broadcast on BBC1's Dancing in the Street.
In March 2009 it was announced there would be a new UK tour in the autumn - http://www.timewarp.org.uk/lab2009/index.htm
David Bedella reprised his role as Frank 'N' Furter, as did Nathan Amzi as Eddie/Dr Scott. The production was the same as the 2006/2007 tour, with small changes to lighting/choreography/costumes and musical arrangements. One of the main changes was the changing of the 'Time Warp' choreography. In the 06/07 tour, the choreography during the chorus featured angular and sharp movements, with an interpretation of clock-hands on the word 'again'. However in the 2009 tour the chorus choreography was reverted to the old disco-style, due to audience members feeling alienated by the new choreography in 2006.
After two previews, The Rocky Horror Show premiered in the USA at The Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles, opening at the 500-seat theatre on 21 March 1974. Director Jim Sharman and many other backstage members came over from London, although Tim Curry was the only member of the cast to reprise his role. Meat Loaf joined the cast here as Eddie/Dr. Scott, Kim Milford as Rocky, Boni Enten as Columbia, and Jamie Donnelly starred as Magenta/Usherette Trixie. (The Usherette was first called "Trixie" at the Roxy.) Bill Miller and Abigale Haness rounded out the cast as Brad and Janet. A recording of this cast is available. Tim Curry and Meat Loaf left the cast in September 1974 to begin recording the soundtrack sessions for the film, replaced respectively by Paul Jabara and Alan Martin. The Rocky Horror Show closed at the Roxy Theatre on 5 January 1975 in preparation for the transfer to Broadway.
The Rocky Horror Show originally played on Broadway in 1975 with the Roxy cast from Los Angeles, except for Graham Jarvis who was initially replaced by Chicago native William Newman for the first preview but then rehired, and Bruce Scott, who was injured in another play and replaced by author Richard O'Brien himself. Tim Curry and Meat Loaf also rejoined the cast. After three previews, it opened on 10 March 1975 at the 967-seat Belasco Theatre. The critics panned the show and it closed on 6 April 1975 after 45 performances.
The Rocky Horror Show had a longer revival on Broadway from October 2000 to January 2002 and featured Tom Hewitt (later Terrance Mann) as "Frank N. Furter" , Alice Ripley as Janet. Raúl Esparza (later Sebastian Bach) as "Riff Raff", rock singer Joan Jett as "Columbia", funny lady Lea DeLaria (later Jason Wooten) as "Eddie/Dr. Scott", and Daphne Rubin-Vega of Rent fame 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 after 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.
During performances the audience has been encouraged to join in with the performance. Items most commonly taken are:
The Rocky Horror Show computer game was produced for early 8-bit computers including the Commodore 64, Commodore 128, ZX Spectrum, Enterprise 128 and Amstrad CPC by the CRL Group PLC in 1985. The game involved playing as either Brad or Janet and collecting pieces of the Medusa machine scattered around the castle, in order to free the player's partner from stone and escape the castle before it blasts off. Meanwhile, the other characters in the game could either hinder the player's progress by stealing and hiding their clothes and other objects, or kill the player outright.
The Rocky Interactive Horror Show Game was released in March/April 1999 for the PC by On-Line PLC. Similarly to the earlier CRL game, the player plays as Brad or Janet and must rescue their partner from the castle. Unlike the older computer game, its gameplay was more puzzle-oriented, and benefited from the added detail, graphics, and live video sequences that the PC could provide.