SEP 6–OCT 13, 2019
Lakewood Theatre Company
368 S. State Street
Lake Oswego, OR 97034
The Rocky Horror Show
Music, Lyrics & Book by Richard O’Brien
Directed by John Oules
Give Yourself Over to Absolute Pleasure!
Are you ready to do the time warp? This humorous musical tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the late 1940s through early 1970s has entranced audiences for decades, with its array of characters who seduce, entangle and gyrate to tunes that are out of this world. Don’t miss when it comes to life – in more ways than one – on Lakewood’s Mainstage!
Title Sponsors: ComForCare and Jeff & Joanne Kantor
Directorial Sponsor: The Springs Living, Lake Oswego
As an out-of-work actor in London in the early 1970s, Richard O'Brien wrote The Rocky Horror Show to keep himself busy on winter evenings. Since his youth, he had developed a passion for science fiction and B horror movies; he wanted to combine elements of the unintentional humour of B horror movies, portentous dialogue of schlock-horror, Steve Reeves muscle films, and fifties rock and roll into The Rocky Horror Show. A major theme running throughout the musical is transvestism, which according to O'Brien was not originally meant to be as prominent as it ended up being. He conceived and wrote the play set against the backdrop of the glam era that had manifested itself throughout British popular culture in the early 1970s;he has stated "glam rock allowed me to be myself more", allowing his concept to come into being.
O'Brien took a small amount of his unfinished Rocky Horror to Australian director Jim Sharman, who decided he wanted to direct it at the small experimental space Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, Chelsea, London, which was used as a project space for new work. Sharman had received considerable local acclaim as the director of the original Australian productions of Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. He went to London to direct the first British stage production of Superstar, during which he met O'Brien, who had played King Herod for just one performance. Sharman brought fellow Australians Nell Campbell and long-time scenic designer partner Brian Thomson into the production.
Star Tim Curry recalled his first encounter with the script:
I'd heard about the play because I lived on Paddington Street, off Baker Street, and there was an old gym a few doors away. I saw Richard O'Brien in the street, and he said he'd just been to the gym to see if he could find a muscleman who could sing. I said, "Why do you need him to sing?" [laughs] And he told me that his musical was going to be done, and I should talk to Jim Sharman. He gave me the script, and I thought, "Boy, if this works, it's going to be a smash."
The original creative team was then rounded out by costume designer Sue Blane and musical director Richard Hartley, although Pete Moss would later take over as musical director. Michael White was also brought in to produce Rocky Horror. As the musical went into rehearsal, the working title for it became They Came from Denton High, but it was changed just before previews at the suggestion of Sharman to The Rocky Horror Show.
After two previews, the show premiered—without an interval—at the Royal Court's 63-seat Theatre Upstairs on 19 June 1973, and ran until 20 July 1973. The cast included Tim Curry, who had decided that Dr Frank N. Furter shouldn't just be a queen, he should speak like the Queen of England, extravagantly posh, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell (billed as Little Nell), Julie Covington, and O'Brien, who made the production, which was all-out camp, a creative triumph and a critical and commercial success. Record producer Jonathan King saw it on the second night and signed the cast to make the original cast recording over a long weekend that was rushed out on his UK Records label. King was involved heavily in the initial promotion for the show, as well as being the minority backer of it financially with White having a majority share.
The impact at the Royal Court Upstairs allowed the production be transferred to the 230-seat Chelsea Classic Cinema nearby on Kings Road from 14 August 1973 to 20 October 1973. Rocky Horror found a quasi-permanent home at the 500-seat King's Road Theatre—another cinema house, even further down Kings Road—from 3 November 1973. The show received critical praise and won the 1973 Evening Standard Award for Best Musical. When Richard O'Brien played Riff Raff in the original Broadway production of Rocky Horror in 1974 Robert Longden took over the role in London.
The show's run at the King's Road Theatre ended on 31 March 1979; it then transferred to the Comedy Theatre (now the Harold Pinter Theatre) to begin performances on 6 April 1979. At the new venue, Rocky Horrorrequired some restaging, for the Comedy was the first theatre at which the musical had played that possessed a traditional proscenium arch stage. For the first time, the musical was also broken into two acts with an interval. It finished its run there on 13 September 1980.
Beyond its cult status, The Rocky Horror Show is also widely hailed, alongside other experimental theatre works such as Hair (musical), to have been an influence on the countercultural and sexual liberation movements that followed on from the 1960s. As a result, the show received "a mauling from New York based critic Rex Reed, who said the production 'was only for homosexuals'". However, O'Brien stated that it is rather a celebration of difference that allows marginalized communities to gather and coexist. Unlike Reed, other critics would suggest that "though many people might laugh at the notion, Rocky Horror is in many ways a serious musical and a serious social document".