And again, and again, and again.
That’s right, it’s “Rocky Horror” season, with live stage productions and film screenings popping up all over the Upper Delaware …
And again, and again, and again.
That’s right, it’s “Rocky Horror” season, with live stage productions and film screenings popping up all over the Upper Delaware River region. As with a certain chicken/egg philosophical query, I’ve always wondered which came first—the movie or the show?
I’ve actually seen both on more than one occasion, but have more questions than answers about the origin of everyone’s favorite “sweet transvestite” from Tran-sill-vain-ee-ya. Naturally, I turned to the internet for details.
Thankfully, for those of us with inquiring minds, there is no shortage of words written on the subject, and I quickly learned that the original U.K. production of the show premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre on June 19, 1973. Originally conceived as an homage to science fiction and cheesy horror movies, “Rocky” ran for a total of 2,960 performances, winning the coveted Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Musical that same year.
The show’s actor/writer/musician playwright, Richard O’Brien, (the original Riff-Raff) once stated that he wanted to “combine elements of the unintentional humor of B horror movies, portentous dialogue of schlock-laden scripts, Steve Reeves muscle films, and ‘50s rock and roll” into what millions of fans all over the world know as “The Rocky Horror Show.”
Actor Tim Curry (“The Hunt for Red October,” “Congo,” “Muppet Treasure Island”) who originated the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the original London production, became particularly associated with the musical.
“Well, that answers the chicken question,” I murmured to the dog, “but what about the egg?”
Gidget stopped gnawing on a boney long enough to point a paw in the direction of my computer.
“The musical was adapted into the 1975 film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Wikipedia informed me, “starring O’Brien as Riff Raff, with Curry also reprising his role; the movie has the longest-running release in film history.”
Beyond its cult status, “The Rocky Horror Show” is also widely said to have been an influence on countercultural and sexual liberation movements that stemmed from the 1960s. It was one of the first popular musicals to depict an acceptance of fluid sexuality during a time of wide division between generations.
I’m still unclear on how the practice began, but since its inception, thousands flock to see, hear, dress like and do the Time Warp (“it’s just a jump to the left”) with Frank, Magenta, Riff-Raff, Brad, Janet and the gang every October in a wide variety of spooky venues scattered literally all over the world, including right here at home.
As with the film adaptation, the musical is noted for a long-running tradition of audience participation through call-back lines and attending while dressed up as characters from the show.
Just last week, folks enjoyed doing all of that at the Rivoli Theater in South Fallsburg, NY, where audiences “participated” with the film, which was presented by the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop. It’s attracting fans of the genre with “Haunted Theatre Tours” and screening films such as “Nosferatu” and “Frankenstein” through October.
Combining iterations, the Callicoon Theater has invited fiends—I mean friends—to “shiver with anticipation” over its “Rocky Horror” movie night, slated for Tuesday, October 24. It features the “Live Apoca-Lips Cast,” which is sure to add yet another dimension to this otherworldly global phenomenon.
Meanwhile, in what has become a Sullivan County tradition, The Forestburgh Playhouse is presenting yet another sold-out, month-long production of its all-singing, all-dancing, live-on-stage (that’s a lot of hyphens!) version of “The Rocky Horror Show” with a fantastic band that literally rocks the house.
Whether on the big screen or live on stage (or both!), productions invariably offer “prop bags” to enhance the experience. Die-hard fans know the story inside and out, and are encouraged to toss rice at the newlyweds, squirt them with water guns during the storm and haul out their flashlights to pierce the darkness during “Over at the Frankenstein Place,” sung in Act One. It’s comforting (IMHO) to know that in a chaotic world rife with bad news and riddled with doubts about the future of mankind, there will always be someone shouting out to the world, “Let’s do the Time Warp again.”
Ask the Google: Q—Which came first: the chicken or the egg?”
A—“The dilemma stems from the observation that all chickens hatch from eggs and all chicken eggs are laid by chickens. The question represents an ancient folk paradox addressing the problem of origins and first cause. Aristotle, writing in the fourth century BCE, concluded that this was an infinite sequence, with no true origin. Plutarch, writing four centuries later, specifically highlighted this question as bearing on a ‘great and weighty problem (whether the world had a beginning).’”
In the fifth century CE, Macrobius (whoever he is) wrote that while the question seemed trivial, it “should be regarded as one of importance.”
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