Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Rocky Horror Show

Last Friday night Lyndy, Evan and I went to the Topeka Civic Theatre to see a performance of "The Rocky Horror Show".  Playing the part of Riff Raff was Lyndy's nephew Les.  I have been a big fan of all things Rocky Horror since I was in high school.  Like most people, I am familiar primarily with the movie, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".  The movie has long been a popular midnight movie, and arguably the biggest cult film of all.  Many aren't aware of the fact that before there was a movie, Rocky Horror started out as a musical theatrical play  in London.

Actor Richard O'Brien was part of a British production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" when he met Jim Sharman, Australian theater director.  O'Brien shared with Sharman his draft for a new musical he had been writing, then called "They Came From Denton High".  Working together they developed it into a full production, and it opened in London on June 19, 1973.  Gradually moving to bigger and bigger theaters, "The Rocky Horror Show" had an initial run of 2,960 performances.  It first played in the U.S. in 1974, where it flopped after only 45 performances.  Despite that, in late 1974 the musical was turned into the movie "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", relased in 1975.  The movie was a flop, too, until it started catching on in midnight movie showings at the Waverly Theatre in New York City in 1976.  The rest is cult movie history.

After seeing the movie so many times, both in theatres and on the DVD we own, it was really interesting to see it performed in person by actors.  There are two stages at the Topeka Civic Theater, and this played in a the smaller, more intimate one that only holds about 100 in the audience.  As a result we were only about 25 feet from the stage.  When we entered we each picked up a sack containing a water gun, cards, bubbles (substituting for rice), noise makers etc., the same kind of stuff we used to sneak into the movie theatre.  They encouraged the audience to yell out all the commentary as done when attending the movie.  This created a unique situation because about the last thing you'd normally want someone in the audience to do during a play is to shout something out.  I'm sure it was difficult for the actors to keep focused on their lines with all the distractions, but they all took it in stride and often made very funny ad-libs based upon things the audience shouted at them. 

So all in all a very fun night at a performance I'll never forget.  If you ever get a chance to see Rocky Horror as a musical I strongly recommend it.  It is not, however, recommended for the prude or for those with closed minds.

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