The classic 1970's film/stage experience is known to pretty much everyone on the face of the planet unless you have been living under a rock all these years. If you haven't seen it, then you more then likely know The Time Warp or have danced to it at some point in your life. Following Brad and Janet after they get engaged, going to see their old tutor (Dr Scott). While on the road, their tire bursts with the spare also broken. They end up walking back in the pouring rain to a castle (oh yeah always the greatest of ideas people!) to ask to use their phone.
Once there they are invited inside to the masters affair, a party with unusual folk dancing. As well as Frank N Furter, a man with a fetish for woman's clothes, make up and heels. Who loves to live a life of sensual pleasures, building himself a monster in his lab in the name of Rocky. During their time there, Frank seduces the couple into his way of living. Murders one of his ex's (Eddie) and has a pretty good time. Set to a pretty amazing sound track.
The production has seen hundreds of stage shows, cast changes and tributes in TV and film. Including in the last few years Glee having a special episode based around it. Fuelling a new generation to gain interest in the production. Giving Fox the idea (like with other musicals they have recreated) to rewrite this classic master piece with their own twist.
Over the months of seeing snippets and cast pictures, I have been as against this production as a lot of old school Rocky Horror fans have been. Holding up my hand and objecting to a female Frank. However I now eat my words after seeing the production as Ms Cox does a fantastic job as Frank. Camp, over the top and very much in control of her surroundings. Doing justice to the role, it is the director whom I have disgust for. He doesn't treat the female character change as it needed to be. He gives her a red costume for Sweet Transvestite, bringing her in with a mask on some platform which makes her look like some cheap drag act with corny choreography. The whole song and opening to Frank's character just leaves me completely cold. As does the whole of her section of Rose Tint My World. With an equally stupid entrance, and poor costume choice. One rewording of Whatever happened to Fay Ray? was desperately needed here to explain why she was crying that she couldn't have that dress, because as a woman of course she could!
Another production problem with Ms Cox's character was the love scenes between her character and Brad or Janet. With the costume she is wear, it is very easy to see her chest when she snuggles into bed with them, ruining for the viewer the surprise of omg!!!! That is actually Frank! Given a few rewrites I can see myself actually getting completely sold on the gender bend, which is something I never thought I would say. Ms Cox has some amazing facial expressions which convey far more then her words, mostly in the scene with Adam Lambert that I commented on last night. Disgust of Adam crashing her party, trying to take over what is her night. Making more sense of why she killed him now I have seen the full scene. I kind of side with her killing him as well, you don't crash someone else's party and act like the big man.
Other issues I had with the show are: the fact the funeral party actually got involved with Dammit Janet. I think it would have looked far better if they were looking on with disgust at these kids partying during a sombre moment. I also hate with a passion what they have done to Time Warp. It is completely ruined! I love that scene, it’s the first thing I ever knew of Rocky Horror as a child from watching an old quiz show which showed scenes from it. I have seen Rocky Horror on stage more times than I like to admit to. I have even danced it in a medley show. Time Warp has a certain style of dance, and steps that require being there as they state in the lyrics. When they go through the first level of the words we do the correct steps. However after that the dancers spring into this flash dance mob of random dance steps, grinding against the ground instead of doing a pelvic thrust. I am no prude, but even I found this dance distasteful. As well as cold, uninteresting and pretty much the worst part of the entire production.
Other hates were the cast choices. Columbia was clearly on drugs, a bland boring disinteresting character which I could happily have left on the cutting room floor. Even her Tome Warp dance solo left nothing to remember her by. Riff Raff, a character played so badly that Kristian Lavercombe is more then likely turning in his grave when he isn't even dead yet! (Current touring Riff Raff with the official stage production). Brad clearly went to the Canadian Forestry Commission's School of Acting. Even in Rose Tint My World when he is trying to hold back from his sensual feelings he shows zero emotion in his work. As for Magenta do not even get me on her Transylvanian via the East End of London accent. Even Rocky I found rather bland, all of these characters needed serious recasting!
Surprises of the production. I love the opening titles, as well as the audience participation parts of the show, bringing a real inner depth to the production. These were masterfully created scenes. I also loved the start of the new version of Rose Tint My World it was really getting me grooving. I loved the costumes, as well as how they got into it.
Victoria Justice as Janet just blew me away, she was the best actor and the closest to the original character of any of the cast. Sweet, innocent, yet slutty when she needed to be. Conflicted in her emotions. I thought she would be the worst of the team, again I apologise for my earlier comments on her casting. I think she is perfect for the role now.
As well of course as Whatever Happened To Saturday Night which I made clear last night how much I love. Which only gains in my estimation by seeing the full version. Glamberts look out for Adam appearing in the coffin in Eddie’s Teddy, as well as the photo album and in the end titles singing. Eddie's mother in a photo is hysterically funny. If the whole production had been the same quality as these few pieces then it would have been truly amazing!! A perfect tribute to the genre. As it is, it is just another B Movie TV Remake which will get forgotten almost as quickly as it was created. It is almost as if half the movie was re shot after the public started to object to the snippets we saw, and they just didn't have time to re shoot the whole production.
Very odd ball for me to try to give a star rating to as there are pieces I completely love more than the original. Then other parts which just make me want to curl up and die. Kinda looking forward to the extended version to see if they improve the worst parts.
Sarah Beth James
PS My endless thanks to those who gave me a press edition preview copy after I complained last night I couldn’t see it. Within hours of my first article hitting the internet. I feel so loved. Or maybe that should be stalked……