Fox’s New Take on ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’

October 17, 2016


Just in time for Halloween, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is back, but this time with a twist. After 40 years, the campy cult-classic musical comedy horror film has a new televised version. Fox-TV will premiere Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again on October 20th at 8 p.m.. The show is a tribute to the original, and is directed by Kenny Ortega who also directed the High School Musical trilogy.

American Idol‘s Adam Lambert portrays the motorcycle-riding bad boy Eddie who crashes the party at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s citadel. Eddie was originally played by Meatloaf in the 1975 film singing Hot Patootie–Bless My Soul. Lambert revealed his enthusiasm for the role saying, “I grew up watching ‘Rocky Horror,’ but could never imagine that I would be part of this new vision. ‘Rocky Horror’ always made me feel like it was okay to celebrate my weirdness. Hallelujah, bless my soul! I love that old time rock ‘n’ roll!”

The Hollywood Reporter said Lambert was originally considered for the starring role of Frank-N-Furter–the part that was first played by none other than Tim Curry. But Lou Adler, who produced both versions of the film, believed Adam’s performance would be too closely compared with Curry’s performance by diehard fans. As it turns out, Laverne Cox, the star of Orange Is the New Black was selected to play the iconic part. Adler said, “When the idea for Laverne came up, that took that [concern] away. Win or lose, she was not going to be compared to Tim.”

The cross-dressing pansexual alien scientist Frank sings boundary-breaking songs like Sweet Transvestite. To prepare, Cox took several months worth of vocal lessons as well as dance classes to train. Adler described Cox as “a force,” adding, “It’s surprising that she hasn’t been asked to do a musical before because she can really do it all. She really sets the bar high.”

The show’s song “Don’t dream it, be it,” has long resonated with Cox. “I am a black transgender woman from Mobile, Alabama from a working-class background who is starring in ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,'” she told Billboard. “The movie is about freedom and embracing who you are. Letting go of all your inhibitions. I hope that’s what people take away–that anything is possible.” Recalling when the original film first came out, she said, “I was gender nonconforming. I was wearing dresses in college and had a shaved head, and there was this character who was this wonderful validation of who I was.”

Former Nickelodeon star, Victoria Justice, portrays the newly engaged Janet Weiss who was played by Susan Sarandon in the 1975 film. Justice acknowledged how challenging it is to follow such a fan-favorite performance. To prepare, she watched the original many times because she wanted to make sure to “pay homage to certain specific spots that are already fan favorites.” But then she deliberately refrained from memorizing the way lines were delivered in order to put her own spin on the material.

Liv and Maddie‘s Ryan McCartan was beyond thrilled to be cast as Janet’s fiance Brad. “I have wanted to play Brad Majors since I was 12,” the Disney actor said. “When I saw Brad, such a nerdy guy turned transvestite masterpiece. I knew I would play this role some day. There aren’t words to describe how I feel, and there never will be.”

The film also stars Christina Milian, Annaleigh Ashford, Reeve Carney, Staz Nair, and Ben Vereen.

The 1975 film was first considered a flop, but would go onto become a cult hit with midnight showings. Indeed, fans created audience callback dialogue as well as rituals including throwing toast and toilet paper at the screen. The movie went on to become the longest-running theatrical film in history.

Kenny Ortega said the new version is intended to celebrate rather than supersede the original. “It’s not like we’re a bunch of outsiders. It’s people who have a great love affair with this project, and we’re coming at it with great sensitivity, care, and appreciation for all that it’s meant.”