History of the RHS

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What does RHS mean?

The Rocky Horror Show. It is the play on which the movie was based.

How did RHS start?

The RHS was a play, written in six months by Richard O'Brien, with the working title "They Came from Denton High." The title was changed to "The Rock Hor-Roar Show", and eventually to "The Rocky Horror Show". The first preview was on June 16, 1973, at The Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in London, England. The play was intended as "a bit of fun" to run only a couple of weeks, but was a huge hit. The play moved from the 60-seat Theatre Upstairs to a series of larger houses, starting with the Classic Cinema, a converted movie house scheduled for demolition. Rocky played there from Aug. 14, 1973 to Oct. 20, 1973. The show's next home was the Kings Road Theatre. Rocky played at Kings Road from Nov. 3, 1973 to March 31, 1979, with multiple cast changes. The end of Rocky's initial UK run was at the Comedy Theatre in the West End, which required some restaging as it was the first theatre Rocky played at with a traditional proscenium arch stage. It was at the Comedy that Rocky was first broken into two acts with an interval (intermission). Rocky ran there from April 6, 1979 until September 13, 1980. (Note: if you want to visit these venues today, the Comedy was renamed the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2011.)

Rocky was named Best New Musical of 1973 by "Plays and Players"' annual poll of theater critics, and best musical of 1973 by the "Evening Standard"'s panel of drama critics.

Where did it go from there?

The show continued to play in London for a total of 2,960 performances, finally closing Sept. 13, 1980.

About ten months into the run, Lou Adler (who had recently opened the Roxy club in Los Angeles, California) saw the musical (on a night Richard O'Brien was playing Frank) and brought it to The United States - at the Roxy. The show's first preview was March 19, 1974.

Rocky started spreading early: it made it to Australia in 1974, and Japan in 1975, and has been around the world since.

In 1975, it was made into the movie. As a promotion for the movie, it also had a (disastrous) run on Broadway from March to April of 1975, closing after only three previews and 45 performances.

Tip: If you see a photo of Tim Curry playing Frank as a blond, it's from the London production. Tim dyed his hair black before playing the part in the US; I think it was supposed to make him look more like glam rocker Alice Cooper.

A rather gobsmacking collection of video, photos, audio information and links from various productions of the Rocky Horror Show can be found here: http://www.rockymusic.org/tags/Rocky+Horror+Show.php

What are the cast lists from the 1973-1975 original shows?

Note: Links in this section are to entries in the Internet Movie Database

London (The Theatre Upstairs) - June 19, 1973

Dr. Frank-N-Furter......................Tim Curry
Janet Weiss...............................Julie Covington
Brad Majors..............................Christopher Malcolm
Riff-Raff....................................Richard O'Brien
Magenta/Usherette....................Patricia Quinn
Columbia..................................Little Nell
Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott.........Paddy O'Hagan
Rocky Horror.............................Rayner Bourton
Narrator....................................Jonathan Adams (RIP)

Los Angeles (Roxy) - March 21, 1974

Dr. Frank-N-Furter......................Tim Curry
Janet Weiss..............................Abigale Haness
Brad Majors..............................Bill Miller
Riff-Raff...................................Bruce Scott (now known as "Zahariades")
Magenta and Usherette..............Jamie Donnelly
Columbia..................................Boni Enten
Eddie and Dr. Scott....................Meatloaf
Rocky Horror.............................Kim Milford (RIP)
Narrator....................................Graham Jarvis (RIP)

Sydney (New Arts Cinema) - April 19, 1974 For more information, visit[1]

Dr. Frank-N-Furter......................Reg Livermore
Janet Weiss...............................Jane Harders
Brad Majors..............................John Paramor / Piero von Arnim
Riff-Raff...................................Sal Sharah
Magenta and Usherette..............Kate Fitzpatrick
Columbia.................................Maureen Elkner
Eddie and Dr. Scott...................David Cameron / Terry Bader
Rocky Horror............................Graham Matters
Narrator...................................Arthur Dignam

New York (Broadway) - March 10, 1975

Dr. Frank-N-Furter......................Tim Curry
Janet Weiss...............................Abigale Haness
Brad Majors..............................Bill Miller
Riff-Raff...................................Richard O'Brien
Magenta and Usherette..............Jamie Donnelly
Columbia.................................Boni Enten
Eddie and Dr. Scott...................Meatloaf
Rocky Horror............................Kim Milford (RIP)
Narrator...................................William Newman

Tokyo (Shakai Bunka Kaikan) - July 30 - Aug 11 1975, then Osaka

Dr. Frank-N-Furter......................Ziggy Byfield
Janet Weiss...............................Belinda Sinclair
Brad Majors..............................Christopher Malcolm
Riff-Raff...................................Desmond McNamara
Magenta and Usherette..............Caroline Noh
Columbia.................................Judith Lloyd
Eddie and Dr. Scott...................Paddy O'Hagan
Rocky Horror............................Rayner Bourton
Narrator...................................Peter Bayliss

What casts have existed throughout the years?

There are too many casts to mention: the play has been going on pretty much continuously in England since 1973, has had multiple European tours, and hundreds of productions have surfaced around the world, many of them producing interesting (and often quite good) cast recordings.

There's a rather wonderful page on the history of the RHS in Australia at http://www.ozrockyhorror.com/, run by Mark Jabara Ellison. (If the name sounds familiar, it's because his cousin, Paul Jabara, was the original Herod whose shoes Richard O'Brien tried to fill in Jesus Christ Superstar, getting fired for his interpretation.) For US/Canada shows, you can find lists of where it's playing or played (going back to 2008) at http://www.rockyshows.net/. http://www.playitagainrocky.com/ features impressions and photos of productions in the American Midwest going back to about 2000.

Where can I get recordings of RHS casts?

The only ones still in wide-scale production are the Original London and the Original Roxy (both with Tim Curry). The Broadway cast recorded a soundtrack album, which came out May 15, 2001. Try your favorite music store for these. There are also many interesting foreign casts available (some in English, some not). For information on how to get these recordings, go to http://www.rockymusic.org/index.html. They have more information than you probably wanted (lyrics in Icelandic, anyone?) and include liner notes, reviews, photos, and direct links to sites which sell some of the recordings. A good source for some of the harder to find foreign recordings (Finnish, Danish, etc.) is http://www.darkrefrain.com, run by Bruce Cutter.

Many fans collect various sound recordings of Rocky, so ask around, or inquire within your local cast. These most likely won't be originals, but they're a start, and several recordings are unavailable or out of print. For a sampler of various international recordings, try the "Rocky Horror International" album from the 15th Anniversary Box Set (out of print, but well worth hunting for), or the 2000 Rocky Horror Anthology Import (which includes tracks from "Rocky Horror International"). You can find various productions of the show soundtrack in the "Rocky Horror Show" section of rockyhorror.org's Amazon store at http://www.rockyhorror.org/shop. And for heaven's sake, go to rockymusic.org already.

If the recording you're looking for is out of print (or you like vinyl), just keep looking. Maybe someone is selling one at a garage sale; perhaps one is piled with all the used records at a music store. You can find soundtracks on http://www.ebay.com, although some prices have gotten very steep (in the hundreds of dollars for soundtracks like the Mexican, or Norwegian). (==>WARNING: Know what you are doing before you bid on eBay! You will save a lot of money if you comparison shop for a while before jumping right in; it is very easy to pay far too much for some "RARE" item that really isn't.<==)

Is RHS still performed?

Oh, yes! (Where have you been? It played on Broadway from October 2000 through January 2002; heck, it was up for a Tony.) In England, it's performed regularly, and many casts will spring up around the world for brief runs of the show. The play seems to be being staged more often recently...the European tour has been going on and off since at least 1995 (mostly in Germany), and productions are popping up around the United States, especially around Halloween. Maybe half of the productions are done by college theater departments; a goodly number are being done by community theaters. Even a couple of high schools have gotten into the act, though in the editor's opinion this is a bad idea - most any high school would require censoring the show, and if it's censored, what's the point?

How is the play different from the movie?

"I prefer the play to the movie because I get royalties from the play." -- Richard O'Brien.

The best way to see how the movie differs from the play, of course, is to either read the original script or go see the play. Sal sells xeroxed copies of the script which include interesting production notes. You can also get inexpensive reading copies of the script from:

Samuel French, Inc. / 45 West 25th Street / New York, NY 10010 / (212) 206-8990
http://www.samuelfrench.com/

Please note that the script is still evolving, so the text may vary depending on which version of the script you get.

Here are general descriptions of some of the significant and interesting differences, inspired by Joe Blevins. Also refer to History of the RHPS to see what changes were made to the songs for the movie. Please note that many productions in the US deliberately copy the film and do things movie-style, often omitting songs, adding and shuffling scenes, and copying the costumes and blocking, so you may not see these differences if you watch the play in the US. See also History of the RHPS - What changes to the songs were made for the movie.

  • The opening sequence, "Science Fiction, Double Feature", is sung by an "usherette," usually performed by the same actor playing Magenta. Shadowcasts often pay homage to this by having an usherette (or occasionally usher) featured during the song, and if you've wondered why, now you know.
  • The play does not begin with Ralph and Betty Hapschatt driving off, nor are there any wedding guests. Rather, the fact that a wedding just took place is established by Janet's initial dialogue ("Oh, Brad, wasn't it wonderful...").
  • During the first three songs, backup vocals are sung by "phantoms" who are located in various sections of the theatre and audience. They also provide various sound and lighting effects. These characters are sometimes played by actors who perform as other characters later in the show.
  • The Criminologist is merely a narrator. He has many more monologues, several of which are much longer.
  • Brad gets an extra verse during "There's a Light."
  • The songs "Time Warp" and "Sweet Transvestite" are in the reverse order in the original play, though later productions have adapted the movie sequence.
  • The Transylvanians do not appear in the play (though again, nowadays, often they do). Brad and Janet (and, later, Dr. Scott) are Frank's only guests.
  • The character of Eddie is foreshadowed, rather humorously, early on. ("Eddie?" "The delivery boy. His delivery wasn't good enough.")
  • Frank's big "creation scene" speech is significantly different.
  • Rocky can speak.
  • Instead of emerging from a freezer, Eddie pops out of an old Coca-Cola vending machine. As a tribute to this, the original idea for the movie was to have him break through a wall of Coke bottles in the freezer.
  • The roles of Eddie and Dr. Scott are usually performed by the same actor.
  • There is no dinner scene.
  • After Brad discovers Janet's infidelity, he sings a song, "Once in a While," which was shot for the movie but not included.
  • Nobody is turned to stone in the play. Instead, they are sprayed by Riff-Raff with what looks to be a perfume bottle or insecticide spray. They become drugged and pass out. Magenta continues to sing "You're a hot dog" after Brad, Dr. Scott, and Janet are sprayed, and so gets sprayed herself. Columbia also gets sprayed, but receives a psychedelic effect instead of passing out.
  • The usherette also sings the "Science Fiction" reprise.

Is there Audience Participation for RHS?

Usually, but not always. Some stage productions encourage AP, or even sell prop kits. Some want AP but are horrified at the idea of people throwing rice. Some productions will run you out on a rail if you just get up to Time Warp. Almost all productions welcome patrons who attend in costume. ASK.

There are two schools of thought here. Some (including the FAQ's original author) feel that the play should be left as the brilliant piece of art that it is, and that the AP should be limited to the film. (This is nice in theory, but never seems to happen in practice.) Some feel that AP adds to the production. In either case, you're liable to encounter it.

Audience Participation at the play is the norm in countries where RHS runs continuously (such as England). In fact, in these places, the play is usually more popular (and easier to find) than the movie, and is the place to go to learn all the new AP lines. If you attend the play in the US, the production will probably be strongly influenced by the film, and thus include AP, sometimes provided by the actors.

If you are planning on doing AP at a production of the RHS, please call first and find out what kind of AP they will accept. And please watch the play once before trying AP; the timing is different and otherwise you'll look like an idiot. Please do not yell movie lines that don't fit at the play, like "neck" lines at the Criminologist. In fact, it's usually best to avoid yelling Crim lines at all unless you know the monologues well; his lines are probably the most different from the film's of any of the characters.

How can I find out where RHS is playing in my area?

Rockyhorror.org includes listings for the play in their Showings section; however the best listing of shows in the US and Canada is at http://www.rockyshows.net , run by an American fan. (For UK and European dates, visit the Rocky Horror Company's official website at http://www.rockyhorror.co.uk/ , or vist the Official UK Fan Club TimeWarp website at http://www.timewarp.org.uk/uktour.htm)

Keep your eyes and ears peeled, particularly around October. Since the amateur rights were released a lot of local community theaters do it then. Ask around at your local RHPS production (though sometimes they're clueless, they might be involved, or the actors might even have visited the show to see what they're in for). Used to be you could also subscribe to Crazed Imaginations, but they've gone out of print.

Show information is often posted at theater sites such as http://www.theatremania.com/, http://www.broadway.com/, or http://www.americantheaterweb.com/. The occasional search on the World Wide Web for keywords "Rocky Horror Show" and "ticket" may pay off. (The "ticket" keyword should help you home in on current productions.) Keep hunting, and remember, a good production is well worth a drive of an hour or two (at least) for the serious fan. And if you do find out about it, for heaven's sake announce it at rockyhorror.org so the rest of us can go!

How can I get the rights for a production of RHS?

Samuel French, Inc. / 45 West 25th Street / New York, NY 10010 / (212) 206-8990 http://www.samuelfrench.com/

The procedure is much the same as for any stage production (you must provide information as to ticket prices, number of performances, seating capacity, musical arrangements, and so on). Until very recently, only professional theatre companies were able to obtain the rights. However, in March 2000, they were released for amateur productions in North America, too.

Who are some famous people who've been in the RHS?

Keep in mind, famous is relative.

  • Gary Glitter played Frank in the 1978 New Zealand production.
  • Tracey Ullman played Janet at the end of the 7-yr run of the RHS at the Comedy Theatre in London in 1980.
  • Wendy O. Williams played Magenta in a production at the Westport theater in St. Louis in 1985.
  • RuPaul played Riff Raff in a 1985 production at the Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta.
  • Russell Crowe played Eddie/Dr. Scott in the 1986 national New Zealand touring production and the 1987/1988 Australian tour (in which he also understudied for Frank--a role he played, but for less than a week). Check it out for yourself: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/young-russell-crowe-performs-rocky-32577
  • Marina Sirtis played Magenta in the mid-1980s (1985 is confirmed) European tour before joining the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Farrah Forke (from TV show "Wings") played Janet in the Erie, PA production in 1991.
  • Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) played Frank in the 1991 West End Revival of the Rocky Horror Show, replacing Tim McInnery (from Black Adder). Craig Ferguson, who's since become a talk show host, performed as Brad. See them talk about it here: Anthony Head on the Late Late Show
  • Nigel Bennett ("Forever Knight") played Riff Raff in the 1984 Italian tour.
  • Olympic ice skater Robin Cousins played Frank in the 1995 UK production.
  • David Arquette played Frank in the 1999 Tiffany production in Los Angeles.
  • Fee Waybill (of the Tubes) played Frank in a 1999 production at the Barn Theater in Michigan, then again in 2002.
  • Jerry Springer played the Narrator in the Cincinnati Playhouse production of Rocky Horror in the early '80s. He was scheduled to do so again in 2000, but the theater went bankrupt.
  • Joan Jett played Columbia in the 2000 Broadway production. This production included a lot of "stunt casting" to get butts in seats. Jett was replaced by Ana Gasteyer of Saturday Night Live. The cast also includes Dick Cavett as the Narrator, with Kate Clinton stepping in for a week. Luke Perry did Brad for a month, and when the show reopened after the Sept. 11 attacks, Riff was being played by Sebastian Bach. Guest narrators included Gilbert Gottfried, Sally Jesse Raphael, Robin Leach ("Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"), Penn and Teller (!) and Jerry Springer.

Several of the Franks in the UK tour have been "names" (such as Jason Donovan and Bobby Crush), though they are probably not well-known outside the UK. The UK tours have also started featuring "guest" celebrity narrators. Versions in Australia have also included former TV personalities or singers (again, probably not well-known outside Australia), and the 1986 New Zealand tour included NZ's former Prime Minister and MP Robert Muldoon.

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