You can see us shiver with antici … pation. The new year will get off to a flamboyant start with the staging of The Rocky Horror Show at the Teatro at Montecasino. Now in its 46th year, Richard O’Brien’s rock ’n’ roll musical is as rambunctious and irreverent as ever, and therefore the perfect tonic to any Janu-worry blues you may be experiencing post-festive season…
The action kicks off with Brad Majors and his girlfriend Janet Weiss getting engaged at a friend’s wedding (to the catchy refrain of ‘Dammit, Janet, I love you…’). Shortly thereafter, the innocent young couple is driving through a storm en route to visit a favourite former professor of theirs. Disaster – or is it fate? – strikes in the form of a flat tyre. Miles from help, they seek shelter and a telephone at the nearest dwelling, a mysterious and foreboding castle. There they meet the cross-dressing pansexual mad scientist Dr Frank-N-Furter – a libertine of the highest order – and his motley crew of staff, guests and one disturbingly good- looking science project…
What follows is a two-act romp of high-energy musical numbers, unforgettable characters, and a subversive widening of narrow minds. O’Brien has cited the unintentional humour of the science fiction and B horror films of the 1940s and ’50s as one of his main influences for Rocky Horror, and it shows. Expect everything from reanimated corpses and schlock horror elements to aliens with laser blasters. And yet, amidst this kicky, camp atmosphere, the production’s underlying themes are those of tolerance, sexual liberation, and the understanding that lies on the other side of dropping your prejudices. The play was originally written by O’Brien in the early 1970s, and he has said that Britain’s glam-rock pop-culture scene of the time ‘allowed me to be myself more’. One can only imagine that the production has made millions of viewers feel that same sense of permission. In fact, when it opened, The Rocky Horror Show was celebrated for its continuation of the 1960s’ countercultural sexual-liberation movement. Even today, its depiction of gender- and sexual fluidity is a beacon of acceptance for the sexually marginalised everywhere, a symbol of hope that we might one day all live in a world more like Dr Frank-N-Furter’s sweet, sweet revolution.
Of course, 46 years ago, all of this was nothing short of groundbreaking, and the tiny production that debuted at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in June 1973 fast became hailed as a creative, critical and commercial success. It moved to progressively larger venues as its star rose, eventually debuting on Broadway in 1975. That same year it was adapted for the big screen, as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The film made a staggering $140 million and is still regularly shown in theatres around the world, making it the longest-running theatrical release in cinema history. Part of its appeal is the audience participation aspect that fans have developed over the years, including dressing up as its characters, bringing props to be used at key plot points, and even an entire sideshow played out and lip-synced in front of the screen.
Bringing this delightful masterpiece to life on South African stages is UK director Christopher Luscombe, whose production of Rocky Horror has been touring for 13 years. He is joined by an all-local cast. Strapping on Dr Frank-N-Furter’s heels is Craig Urbani, who Teatro audiences will have enjoyed most recently during his tour as Billy Flynn in Chicago. In a move keeping with the progressive spirit of the show, the role of the narrator – usually held by a middle-aged male actor – will be played by the dazzling Kate Normington, an actor, singer and cabaret star best known for her work in Sweeney Todd and Hair. Anthony Downing, Marlee van der Merwe, Stefania du Toit, Zak Hendrikz, Jarryd Nurden, Jessica Sole, Usisipho Nteyi, Robin Timm and Sean Louw complete the cast of wide-eyed innocents and lovable miscreants.
Our advice? Get your tickets now and, in the words of Dr Frank-N-Furter, ‘give yourself over to absolute pleasure’.
Did you know?
- ‘Rocky Horror’ is actually the name of Dr Frank-N-Furter’s science project – the beautiful, chiselled man wearing gold lamé underwear.
- Richard O’Brien himself played Riff Raff in the original London cast, on Broadway and in the film version. Actor Tim Curry also reprised his role as Frank-N-Furter in each of these productions.
- The Rocky Horror Show has been performed in 30 countries and translated into 20 languages.
- O’Brien wrote the script while unemployed as an actor in London. It was a way to keep himself busy on winter evenings, he has said.
- The role of Magenta was originally created with British rock star Marianne Faithfull in mind, but she was touring during final casting. Irish singer Patricia Quinn was cast instead. In the opening scene of the film version, the lips syncing to ‘Science Fiction / Double Feature’ are Quinn’s.
Book your seat
Venue Teatro at Montecasino
Dates 17 January to 1 March
Cost R100 – R500
Tickets Visit computicket.com