By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
For over 40 years, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has captured the imaginations of millions of loyal acolytes around the world.
Created by playwright Richard O’Brien, the shocking rock musical hit the West End in 1973, before it premiered respectively in Los Angeles in 1974 and Broadway in 1975. But, it was not until the 1975 film that starred Tim Curry (Dr. Frank N. Furter), Susan Sarandon (Janet), Barry Bostwick (Brad), Meat Loaf (Eddie), Patricia Quinn (Magenta) and Nell Campbell (Columbia) that it began to gain any attention. While the film was initially considered a box office bust, it evolved into a cult classic and became one of the biggest midnight movies of all-time.
To celebrate the franchise’s 41st year of existence, FOX released a tribute to the legendary film: The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again. Directed by Kenny Ortega (High School Musical, Michael Jackson’s This is It, and Disney’s Descendants), the 2016 televised film stayed loyal to O’Brien’s original script.
The incredibly talented cast includes Laverne Cox (Dr. Frank N. Furter), Adam Lambert (Eddie), Christina Millan (Magenta), Victoria Justice (Janet), Reeve Carney (Riff-Raff), Broadway legend Ben Vereen (Dr. Scott), and Curry himself (The Criminologist). The FOX film also introduced audiences to rising stars such as Ryan McCarten (Brad), Staz Nair (Rocky), and Ivy Levan (Trixie the Usherette).
There were some extremely solid performances from this group. Ivy Levan stole the show with her cover of “Science Fiction Double Feature.” I got chills when I first heard her interpretation of the song. In addition to Levan, Carney and Millan’s Riff-Raff and Magenta boosted every scene. You could tell that both performers were having the time of their lives playing these larger than life characters!
Adam Lambert’s Eddie set Frank N. Furter’s castle ablaze when he sang “Hot Patootie-Bless My Soul” and both Broadway veterans Vereen and Curry. Curry was fantastic as the Criminologist and his dry, icy narration set the stage for the production. While Vereen was only featured in the last half of the film, he milked every minute on screen and delivered a superb solo about the dearly departed Eddie. Staz Nair also added comic relief as Frank N. Furter’s creature as he chased around the mad scientist, his staff, and his followers in “The Sword of Damocles” and Janet in “Touch-A, Touch-A Touch Me.”
When I heard Laverne’s version of Frank N. Furter’s signature “Sweet Transvestite,” I was a little disappointed. While the cover lacked Tim Curry’s sinister demeanor or Amber Riley’s fiery rock-and-soul voice, Ms. Cox delivered her rendition that brought the house down, and she was able to be the film’s quarterback and score several touchdowns in the process.
The only complaint I had that I wished that this was live! NBC’s The Sound of Music and The Wiz, plus FOX’s Grease Live elevated the two-hour television musical experience. While Mr. Ortega and his cast may have had a hard time dodging toast, toilet paper, and cards, it would have been an exciting experience. But, I have to give Mr. Ortega and company credit for adding three dozen extras who viewed the production in a theater. This move helped transport the television audience to the giant midnight showing where the audience was watching the action on a giant screen.
Final thoughts & grade: Despite some technicalities, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again is a surprisingly interesting adaptation that will entertain fans and accomplished its mission to introduce a new generation to the cult classic. B