November 5, 2000
New York Times
By RICHARD O'BRIEN
he Rocky Horror Show,"
the 1973 musical that served as the template for the 1975 cult
film version ("The Rocky Horror Picture Show"), opens
Nov. 15 in a new production at Circle in the Square on Broadway.
The cast members, under the direction of Christopher Ashley,
include Dick Cavett as the Narrator, Tom Hewitt (Frank 'n' Furter),
Lea DeLaria (Eddie and Dr. Scott), Joan Jett (Columbia), Daphne
Rubin-Vega (Magenta), Raul Esparza (Riff Raff), Alice Ripley
(Janet) and Jarrod Emick (Brad).
Here, the author
of the original book, music and lyrics, who also portrayed Riff
Raff in the stage and movie versions, describes how he created
LONDON -- I HOLD
the secret to life itself!" Thus spake Frank 'n' Furter.
As the person who put that line in Frank's mouth, I'm not as
confident as he. I have a theory, however, that the "trick"
of life is recovery.
Most of us who have
spent more than a year or two inhabiting the real world know
what it's like to suffer the slings and arrows, etc. Some of
us go under, some survive damaged, others rise like the fabulous
Phoenix. It could be argued that the adversity the latter encountered
was a blessing in disguise.
When I'm asked why
I was compelled to write an off-the-wall entertainment like
"The Rocky Horror Show," my glib answer is "unemployment."
I had been "let go" (dreadful euphemism) from the
London production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in 1972.
Consequently, an unemployed actor with a newly born son found
himself home nights with nothing on his hands except an oven
One evening the doorbell
rang, and there stood Gentleman Caller. (Incidentally, and apropos
of nothing, he's now a rabbi.) We fell into a conversation of
the disaffected, lamenting the impoverished state of the West
End theater and how we would like to improve it. In other words,
we were having an embittered moment, when I said something or
other about wanting to write a rock 'n' roll show that combined
the unintentional humor of B movies with the portentous dialogue
of schlock horror.
G. C. said: "That
sounds great. Let's write it." And then went off to open
a recording studio. We each tread our separate paths, do we
Christmas came around
and I was invited to do a 15-minute spot for the workers at
EMI Film Studios, to be held in the staff canteen. For this
historical moment I penned a little ditty entitled "Science
Fiction, Double Feature," which was received by the tumultuous
crowd of the 50 or so gathered with great warmth and approbation.
Returning home encouraged, I began work on my first major opus,
the song I just mentioned becoming its prologue.
I found myself employed in a Sam Shepard play, "The Unseen
Hand," the director of which was a young Australian named
Jim Sharman. I told him I was working on a project that was
amusing me which wasn't necessarily a recommendation
and one night he found the time to visit and listen to
the bits of script I had scribbled and the few songs I had written.
He was accompanied by a young man named Richard Hartley, who
had groaned on the way over: "Oh, no! Not another rock
musical?" Sad to say, the answer was, "Yes,"
but glad to say he liked it; he became our musical director.
Six months later,
Gentleman Caller had finished building his emporium of sound
and said, "Right, let's get to work on that musical,"
to which I replied, "It's finished and we start rehearsals
next week." I don't think he was too disappointed, as we
formed a publishing company on the back of the show and recorded
the album in the new studio, something we had intended to do
regardless of the show's being a success or not. Didn't we get
Since those humble
beginnings, this joyous concoction of adolescent trash has played
in more than 20 countries, been translated into at least a dozen
languages and, 27 years later, in spite of me and in spite of
itself, still continues to bemuse.
So, if you have recently
been made redundant and have time on your hands, why not pull
out the note pad and start writing? It worked for me.