Summer seems to have flown by! When FOX first announced plans to air a performance of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ last fall, it seemed so far away. But now that Halloween candy and costumes are available in stores, it looks like the time is here!
Produced, directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega, this new presentation is FOX’s second musical special following ‘Grease Live!’ this past spring. This is not simply a remake of the classic midnight movie, but a “live” stage production. (Although, unlike ‘Grease’ ‘Rocky Horror’ is prerecorded.) ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ began as a stage production before being adapted to the movie, starring the same actors. And since the movie took off as a cult favorite, the show has been performed on stages all around the world.
Laverne Cox leads an all-star cast which includes Victoria Justice as Janet, Ryan McCarten as Brad, Adam Lambert as Eddie, Reeve Carney as Riff Raff, Annaleigh Ashford as Columbia, Christina Milian as Magenta, Ben Vereen as Doctor Everett von Scott, Staz Nair as Rocky Horror, and original the Frank-N-Furter Tim Curry as the Criminologist Narrator.
As a tease, here is a brief clip of Justice’s Janet (Susan Sarandon in the original) performing ‘Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me’ as Staz Nair’s Rocky lustily looks on:
— Victoria Justice (@VictoriaJustice) September 14, 2016
If you’re intrigued, by that, here is the full audio of the song:
Hmmm… Victoria Justice has been singing and acting for most of her life and that shows, as her vocals are decidedly polished. Not that Sarandon’s vocals on the original were bad, but like the original movie itself there’s a certain stripped down “amateurish” charm, which is part of what makes it so appealing to so many. But the new take could still work.
There are other changes to this televised performance. One is that Ortega has already said that audience participation would serve as a “character” in this production. There was a live audience for ‘Grease’ which helped reinforce that live theater experience. (The lack of a live audience is a huge part of why I DON’T like the musicals that NBC produces.)
It appears that Ortega invited actual fans, including Sal Piro, President Emeritus of Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club worldwide to throw rice, squirt guns, etc.
How will this all work onscreen? This may give you an idea.
Unlike the original movie which presented the theme song ‘Science Fiction Double Feature’ sung by a pair of red, disembodied lips, in this version, Ivy Levan sings the song dressed as a theater usher, selling tickets, refreshments and escorting people to their seats. Apparently, the camera will cut back to this audience at certain times to help bring the communal theatrical experience home.
You can watch the entire five minute intro below:
Like I said, ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ has been mounted as a stage production hundreds if not thousands of times with different approaches. Obviously, this is a lot glitzier than the lo-fi original. It obviously won’t be as subversive as the original either.
But it could still be fun!
FOX’s ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ will air on October 21.