Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975 Production Notes) 6,331 views
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
From an experimental production in a small London theater to a smash international stage hit to a major motion picture, all in the space of 18 months! That's the exciting history of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, a Lou Adler/Michael White musical production for 20th Century Fox.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is an outrageous assemblage of the most stereotyped science fiction movies, Marvel comics, Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello outings and rock 'n' roll of every vintage. Running through the story is the sexual confusion of two middle American "Ike Age" kids confronted by the complications of the decadent morality of the 70's, represented in the person of the mad "doctor" Frank N Furter, a transvestite from the planet Transexual in the galaxy of Transylvania.
On the way to visit an old college professor, the two clean cut kids, Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and his fiancee Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), run into tire trouble and seek help at the site of a light down the road. It's coming from "the Frankenstein place," where Dr. Frank N Furter (Tim Curry), a transvestite from the planet Transexual in the galaxy of Transylvania, is in the midst of one of his maniacal experiments - he's created the perfect man, a rippling piece of beefcake christened Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood), and intends to put him to good use (his own) in his kinky household retinue, presided over by a hunchback henchman named Riff Raff (Richard O'Brien) and his incestuous sister Magenta (Patricia Quinn), and assisted by a tap dancing groupie-in-residence, Columbia (Little Nell).
Agape in this world of science fiction and fantasy, Brad and Janet don't know what next to expect, when the disastrous result of a previous experiment, an oafish biker named Eddie (Meatloaf), plows through the laboratory wall, wailing on a saxophone. Frank puts a permanent end to this musical interruption without thinking twice until the old professor Brad and Janet had set out to visit, Dr. Scott (Jonathan Adams), turns up at the castle in search of his missing nephew, the juvenile delinquent Eddie. He knows that Frank N Furter is an alien, a spy from another galaxy, and sets out to turn him in, but Frank moves too fast, seducing first Janet, then Brad into his lascivious clutches. Overwhelmed by a newfound libido, Janet hotly attacks the stud Rocky Horror while Brad is under the covers with Frank.
Before Dr. Scott can bring justice and morality into this topsy-turvy Transylvanian orgy, Frank N Furter has turned his captives to stone, in preparation for a new 'experiment' - an all drag revue - when Riff Raff and Magenta reappear in Transylvanian space togs to wrest control of the mission from Frank N Furter, whose lifestyle is too extreme even for his fellow space travelers. When his lavish histrionic claims of chauvinism fail to soften up Riff Raff and Magenta, Frank N Furter tries to escape, only to be gunned down by their powerful rayguns. Rocky rushes to save his creator, but he, too, is blasted to outer space by the militants.
Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott are left in a fog, incapable of readjusting to the normalcy of the life they've left behind in Denton, now that they've tasted the forbidden fruits of the Time Warp.
Created by Richard O'Brien, who wrote the book, music and lyrics and calls it "something any ten-year-old could enjoy," this homage to the horror film opened in London at the Royal Court's experimental Theatre Upstairs as a six-week workshop project in June, 1973. The show received such acclaim at this 60-seat theatre that it was quickly moved to larger quarters in a converted cinema in Chelsea. Following the movie theatre's demolition, the show found a permanent home at the 500-seat King's Road Theatre, where it is still playing to packed houses nightly. The play was named Best Musical of 1973 in the London Evening Standard's annual poll of drama critics.
One of the most dynamic and creative forces of the American music industry, Lou Adler, who was in London, saw "The Rocky Horror Show" and promptly sewed up the American theatrical rights to the play within 36 hours. Adler has long been recognized as being involved in the success of some of the great milestone recording artists of the '60s and '70s, and it is a tribute to his persuasiveness and stature in music circles that he won out over many established New York 'name' producers.
Adler has initiated many 'firsts' in his career. In 1976 he produced the first contemporary music documentary film, "Monterey Pop," filmed at the historic Monterey Pop Festival, which he produced with John Phillips of the "Mamas and Papas." Considered by music historians as possibly the most significant event in pop music history, the first manifestation of the importance and influence of music to the present generation, Monterey also introduced such talents as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
As sole owner and chief executive officer of Ode Records, Adler personally produces every artist on the label and oversees every aspect of the musical careers of such artists as Carole King and Cheech and Chong.
As executive producer of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, Lou Adler presents his first feature film offering since his production of Robert Altman's "Brewster McCloud" for MGM. His only prior association with theatre was as one of six backers for Hillard Elkins' short-lived production of Gore Vidal's "An Evening with Richard Nixon."
The original stage version of "The Rocky Horror Show" was produced by Michael White, one of London's most successful and experienced theatrical producers with over ninety shows to his credit in twelve years, including the London productions of "Sleuth," "The Doll's House," "Oh! Calcutta" and "Two Gentlemen of Verona." On the opening night of "The Rocky Horror Show," Michael White already had six other major productions running in the West End.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW marks White's first screen credit as producer, but together with the film's associate producer John Goldstone his motion picture interests have included "The Final Programme" and "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."
Filming of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW began in October, 1974, at Bray Studios, England's famous "House of Horror," and at a 19th century chateau which served once as the wartime refuge of General Charles DeGaulle.
Both the London and American productions of "The Rocky Horror Show" were directed by Jim Sharman, who makes his motion picture directorial debut with THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. "All during the theatre version there was a movie in the back of my mind," he says. "Being surrounded by film mythology, the theatre version was very cinematic - and the film is very theatrical, although I've tried to avoid making a sort of filmed stage play. The show treads a thin line between homage and parody. I love the old horror films quite passionately, but THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW has its own story and can hold its own whether you are a horror fan or not."
Born and raised in Australia, Sharman trained there with the State Drama Theatre and first made his name with a variety of experimental productions before being recruited as director of "Hair" in Sydney and Tokyo, until "Jesus Christ Superstar" brought him to London and "Rocky."
The film version of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW retains many members of the original Theatre Upstairs company. Repeating the roles they originally created in the theatre are Richard O'Brien (Riff Raff), Patricia Quinn (Magenta), Little Nell (Columbia) and Jonathan Adams (who played the Narrator on stage and now appears as Dr. Scott).
Making his screen debut in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is the sensational star of the London, Los Angeles and Broadway versions of the play, Tim Curry, in the controversial role of the transvestite scientist from outer space, Dr. Frank N Furter.
A serious student of drama who has played in Shakespearean productions, the twenty-eight-year-old Curry does not in the least mind being associated with such a sexually bizarre character. "He has a very odd kind of appeal, particularly to women," says Curry. "He is certainly not corrupting, even to people outside the big cities. He can go from doing something really outrageous and horrific to being deeply moving."
The character of Frank N Furter remains essentially intact in its transition from stage to screen. "A lot has happened to me and the character in a very short period of time," says Curry, "but basically Frank N Furter is the same character that first set sequined high heels on stage just eighteen months ago."
In THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, Transylvania is the name of a galaxy whose space agents assigned to planet Earth have gathered together for their annual Transylvanian Convention. Sets reminiscent of the traditional foreboding Gothic castle yet combining a touch of "Modern Bizarre" were designed by Brian Thomson. An ex-architect who has what he describes as a "healthy contempt" for the idea that scenery is just something in front of which actors act, Thomson has teamed with director Jim Sharman on nine productions including the original stage presentation of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
The film also retains its original costume designer, Sue Blane, whose Merry Widow corsets, garter belts and half tuxedos adorn the ghoulish group. The outlandish makeup for Tim Curry and the Transylvanians was designed by Pierre Laroche, famed makeup artist of stars and celebrities like both Mick and Bianca Jagger.
Lou Adler attributes the show's quick production as a film (usually a play must run at least a year on Broadway before a film production is begun) to the fact that it opened in Los Angeles, where studio executives could witness the success of the show and easily see its potential.
A Lou Adler/Michael White musical production for 20th Century Fox, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW was produced by Michael White and directed by Jim Sharman and Richard O'Brien. Lou Adler is the executive producer. Starring Tim Curry, the film is a screen version of the award-winning hit stage musical with book, music and lyrics by Richard O'Brien.
ABOUT THE CAST...
SUSAN SARANDON (Janet Weiss) was born in New York City. Her father, a former nightclub singer, moved his wife and nine children to the suburbs of New Jersey, where Susan went through high school studying to become a dancer. She attended Catholic University in Washington D.C., where she studied religion, mathematics, philosophy and drama along with the unlikely subject of military strategy.
It was when she met Chris Sarandon, a young actor who became her husband, performing with the Garrick Players in Georgetown, that she began to consider an acting career. Her first break came when she was "discovered" to play Peter Boyle's daughter in "Joe." She subsequently appeared in "Le Fleur Bleu" (a Canadian film), "Lady Luck" and "Lovin' Molly." Susan attracted the attention of Billy Wilder when she tumbled from atop a biplane, barnstorming with Robert Redford in "The Great Waldo Pepper," and he cast her opposite Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in "The Front Page."
She has been seen in a number of television dramas, most remarkably as Ailie Calhoun in the highly acclaimed special presentation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Last of the Belles." She has also appeared in a revival of the George S. Kaufman/Moss Hart play "June Moon" on NET, in "The Rimers of Eldritch" and on a number of series and movies-of-the-week. Early in her career she sustained continuing roles on two daytime serials, "Search for Tomorrow" and "A World Apart."
In THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, Susan has her first chance to sing on screen. She considers the role of Janet Weiss certainly the most unusual she has ever played.
Born in Cheshire, England, in 1946, the son of a Methodist minister, TIM CURRY studied drama and English at Cambridge and at Birmingham University, from which he graduated with Combined Honors. His first professional success was in the London production of "Hair," where he appeared for fifteen months, from 1968 to early 1970, followed by more study and work in the Royal Court and Glasgow Civic Repertory Companies. In the course of his experience, Tim has sung opera at Sadler Wells, played in a variety of British theatrical productions, including "Galileo," "Danton's Death," "The Sport of My Mad Mother" and the Royal Shakespeare Company's "After Haggerty," and appeared in a number of acclaimed British television specials, among them the BBC's 1975 Christmas show, a Victorian satire called "Three Men in a Boat."
In June, 1973, Tim Curry landed the plum role of Dr. Frank N Furter in the original London production of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," for which he auditioned with a rousing rendition of Little Richard's "Tutti Fruitti." He recreated the role of the transvestite scientist in the Los Angeles and Broadway productions and now stars in the screen version under its film title, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, which marks his motion picture debut.
This fall Tim Curry can be seen on Broadway in Tom Stoppard's new play, "Travesties," following its one-month preview engagement in London, and he can be heard on a new solo album, which Lou Adler produced for his Ode Records label.
A New Zealander by birth, RICHARD (Ritz) O'BRIEN appeared in the London productions of "Hair" (with Tim Curry) and "Jesus Christ Superstar" (directed by Jim Sharman) and played another strange creature from outer space in Sam Shepard's "The Unseen Hand" at the Royal Court's experimental Theatre Upstairs, before turning to the Royal Court in his own creation, "The Rocky Horror Show."
A longtime fan of Hollywood "B" movies, bad science fiction films, Dr. Strange comics and rock 'n' roll, O'Brien drew on these elements when he decided to write a piece which was named Best Musical of 1973 by the Evening Standard's annual poll of British drama critics.
For THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, where he makes his motion picture acting and writing debut, O'Brien recreates the role of the ghoulish hunchback Riff Raff, a part he wrote for himself to play in the original London and subsequent Broadway productions of "The Rocky Horror Show."
PATRICIA QUINN is unmistakably Irish, born in Belfast on May 28,1944. Immediately after school she went on the Belfast stage and has been acting ever since. She studied at one of London's leading drama schools, the Drama Centre, and pursued her career at the Glasgow Repertory Theatre (where Tim Curry also gained some experience), followed by appearances in the Royal Court's production of "AC/DC," which was named "Best Play of the Year." Most recently she played Sarah Bernhardt in "Sarah B Divine."
She has appeared in many television productions, including the BBC's "Love School" series on pre-Raphaelite painters and "Shoulder to Shoulder," in which she portrayed suffragette Christabel Pankhurst.
Patricia repeats the role of Magenta in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, which she had originally created in the play's Royal Court Theatre Upstairs version.
She lives in London with her actor-director husband Don Hawkins and their son Quinn.
LITTLE NELL was born Laura Campbell in Sydney, Australia, 22 years ago. Her father was a columnist for the Sydney Telegraph who wrote regularly about the misadventures of his four children. In her father's column Laura was christened "Little Nell" after the Dickens character in "The Old Curiosity Shop," and the name has stuck with her ever since.
She left Australia to become a busker, a kind of panhandling street entertainer, in London, wearing top hat and tails, singing '30s songs and tap dancing. One day Little Nell was busking outside the theatre where "Jesus Christ Superstar" was playing; director Jim Sharman saw her and cast her immediately as Columbia in his next production, "The Rocky Horror Show."
JONATHAN ADAMS - actor, painter, singer, composer and hoofer - played the part of the Narrator in the original London stage version of "The Rocky Horror Show." In THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW Adams takes the role of Dr. Scott, which marks 18 months of his involvement with the ROCKY HORROR project.
Originally trained as a painter, he studied art at Chelsea Art School and London University and taught in his hometown of Northhampton following a stint in the RAF Medical Corps. As an actor, Adams appeared with the Chilfen's Theatre Company, at Sadler Wells and in various productions in London's West End, including two years in "Alibi for a Judge."
29-year-old PETER HINWOOD began his career as a photographer and model, and it was in this latter capacity that he began to attract attention as potential screen star. He was discovered in a layout on "British Manhood" in the London Daily Express and signed to appear in the Italian film "The Odyssey," produced by Dino De Laurentiis.
As Rocky Horror in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, Peter has a chance to show off his well-built 6'2" frame. Shooting of the birth of Rocky Horror for the film took place on October 30, 1970, the 81st anniversary of the birth of Charles Atlas.
A Texan born and raised in Dallas, MEATLOAF played in the Broadway and road-show productions of "Hair," off-Broadway in "Rainbow" and "Silver Queer" and in Joseph Papp's Royal Shakespeare Festival presentations of "As You Like It" and "More Than You Deserve." He has made records for RSO and Motown, where he recorded the hit song "What You See Is What You Get."
Meatloaf was a member of the Los Angeles and New York companies of "The Rocky Horror Show," and now he recreates the role of Eddie in the screen version.
A native Californian, BARRY BOSTWICK was born in San Mateo in February, 1945. He received his BFA degree in acting from California Western University and has trained in juggling, trapeze work, ballet and mime.
Barry has appeared in leading roles with the Phoenix Repertory Company, the Huntington Hartford Theatre and the San Diego Shakespeare Festival. His first Broadway production was "Cock-a-Doodle-Dandy," followed by two off-Broadway rock musicals, "Salvation" and "House of Leather," and the first rock opera on Broadway, "Soon." He also starred with Zoe Caldwell and Mildred Dunnock in "Colette" and co-starred in the critically acclaimed American premiere of Jean Genet's "The Screens."
In 1972 Barry received a Tony nomination as best actor in a musical for his performance as Danny Zuko in "Grease." He brought the national company of "Grease" to the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles and following its West Coast run appeared in the MGM film "Slither" with James Caan, Peter Boyle and Sally Kellerman.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Director JIM SHARMAN was born and raised in Australia, where he trained with the State drama theatre and first made his name with a variety of experimental productions. Following work on more than 20 productions all over Australia, including a number of radical reinterpretations of Shakespeare and opera classics, Sharman was chosen to direct "Hair" in Sydney, where it ran for four and a half years, and in Tokyo.
"Hair" led to "Jesus Christ Superstar" and Sharman's partnership with ex-architect Brian Thomson (designer of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW). Together they have worked on nine productions.
"Jesus Christ Superstar" brought him to London, where one day an actor in the company by the name of Richard O'Brien showed Sharman an idea he was toying with for a camped-up rock 'n' roll version of the Frankenstein story. A sci-fi fan himself, Sharman loved the idea and made it his next project. And so, "The Rocky Horror Show" began as a six-week workshop production at the Royal Court's experimental Theatre Upstairs. "Rocky," with Sharman at the reins, went on to play Los Angeles, New York and Sydney and has achieved the apex of its incarnation now in motion picture form.
Jim Sharman lives in London, where he has directed a number of other plays for the Royal Court Theatre including works by American Sam Shepard ("The Unseen Hand" and "The Tooth of Crime") and fellow Australian David Williamson ("The Removalists"). He returned to Australia briefly in 1973 to direct "The Threepenny Opera" for the opening season of the Sydney Opera House.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW marks his motion picture directing debut, but the twenty-nine-year-old Sharman is already at work on a new film project, "The Secret of Paradise Beach."