Christmas might not be for another two months yet, but that hasn’t curbed anyone’s enthusiasm for the holiday: people are already out there stock-piling presents for the family in a bid to beat the x-mas rush, shops are filling shelves with an array of yuletide paraphernalia and every TV channel is peppered with adverts aiming to convince you that absolutely just have to have that iPhone, X-Box game or ridiculously over-priced toy. If I sound like something of a Grinch, I don’t mean to: as a mother myself, I love seeing the magic of Christmas through the eyes of my little girl. It’s just that Christmas is a whole sixty-eight days away; ergo, I don’t feel in any kind of rush to subject myself to the crazed frenzy the holiday incites just yet. I’m much more interested in what is one of my favourite holidays: Halloween. I adore the creativity it inspires, whether through the assortment of carved pumpkins on display, the carefully designed house decorations and of course, the costumes. Yes, there’s going to be your usual child suspects who dress up as a princess, or a cat, or an action figure, but what really appeals to me is how Halloween incites people to reach down into the darker depths of their psyche. People seem to really go all-out for Halloween now and however disgusting or frightening they make themselves, there is always an underlying sense of art and beauty to their creative efforts which is fascinating. This is a holiday that encompasses both sex and the grotesque, with spectacular results.
With Halloween almost upon us, it seems fitting that talk of Richard O’Brien’s cult classic musical The Rocky Horror Show has been popping up in theatre circles this week, in regards to its forthcoming UK tour in 2013. I don’t think there is another musical out there which fits so synonymously with the night than this, with its ghoulish bizarreness and sexual intonations – the epitome of this, Dr. Frank N. Furter, is a regular addition to the Halloween scene.
Writer/actor Richard O’Brien and director Jim Sharman first brought The Rocky Horror Show to audiences in 1973 in the upstairs venue of the Royal Court Theatre, a devised space to showcase new work. An instant hit, it transferred to the Kings Road Theatre where it ran for almost six years and garnered an Evening Standard Award for ‘Best Musical’, before making its West End debut at the Comedy Theatre (now named the Harold Pinter Theatre). Since then, it has been adapted into a film version, enjoyed a Broadway transfer, been performed in countries all around the globe and embarked on several tours – it also earned a West End revival at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1990. The musical is based around the story of an ingenuous young couple ‘Brad Majors’ and ‘Janet Weiss’ who, newly engaged, are caught in a storm and seek refuge at the castle where mad transvestite scientist ‘Dr. Frank N. Furt’ and his family of freaks reside; inside, a world of scientific experiments, such as a zombie-like delivery boy (Eddie) and the doctor’s prized creation ‘Rocky’, along with space aliens and a corruption to sexual debauchery, is opened up to them. Several of the show’s songs have entered into mainstream society; most prominently the ‘Time-Warp’, which often rears its head in the company of popular party songs and whips up an assortment of people for the show’s signature dance number.
2013 marks the 40th anniversary of The Rocky Horror Show, an occasion which is being celebrated with a new UK tour production, kicking off this winter (Monday 17th December 2012) at the Theatre Royal in Brighton. This week, it was announced that Oliver Thornton, Ben Forster, Roxanne Pallett and Rhydian will lead the tour in the show’s principal roles.
Oliver Thornton (Phantom, Les Miserables, Chicago) is set to play ‘Dr. Frank N Furter’, the role made famous by original cast member Tim Curry in the 1975 film. Having previously played ‘Adam/Felicia’ in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Thornton is sure to feel right at home in the doctor’s heels and suspenders. Ben Forster, who will play geeky young college student ‘Brad’, recently won the ITV talent search show Superstar and is currently leading the arena tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar with Melanie Chisholm, Tim Minchin and Chris Moyles. Joining Forster as his new-found fiancée ‘Janet’ is Roxanne Pallett, most known for her TV roles on Emmerdale and Waterloo Road, as well as participating in the 2009 series of Dancing on Ice. She made her stage debut in the UK tour of Rock Around the Clock and has since appeared in The Vagina Monologues and Satin ‘N’ Steel. Rounding up the team is former X-Factor contestant Rhydian as ‘Rocky’. He was runner-up to Leon Jackson on the 2007 series of Simon Cowell’s singing competition and has released a number of albums following his time on the show, as well as appearing in musicals such as We Will Rock You and Grease. Although Forster and Rhydian will only be staying with the production until February and March 2013 respectively, Thornton recently confirmed that he would be staying in his role for the duration of the tour. No further casting announcements have been made yet.
Produced by Howard Panter for the Ambassador Theatre Group and directed by Christopher Luscombe, the 40th anniversary tour of The Rocky Horror Show is currently booking until July next year and will visit a number of locations around the UK, including the New Wimbledon Theatre, London (21st-26th Jan 2013), the Liverpool Empire Theatre (11th-16th Feb 2013), the Opera House, Manchester (25th-30th March 2013) and the Princess Theatre, Torquay (8th-13th July 2013). It will end its run at the Milton Keynes Saturday 20th July 2013.
This revival of The Rocky Horror Show, with its exciting cast and far-flung reach, is billed as an “unforgettable adventure… filled with fun, frolics, frocks, and frivolity, timeless songs and outrageous outfits” and that is exactly what it promises to be. Still, 17th December is still a way-away, so until then, why not use Halloween to bring Frank N. Furter’s castle of curiosities to life for this one night of the year?
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 18th October 2012