The Rocky Horror Show is 50 this year – and it comes to the Hall For Cornwall in Truro in the very week of its landmark anniversary.
Written by Richard O’Brien, the musical premiered in London’s West End on June 19, 1973, for what was intended to be a three-week run.
Half a century later, characters such as Frank N Furter, Riff-Raff, Brad and Janet have built up a fiercely loyal following of cross-dressing, Time-Warping fans who know the script inside out.
The anniversary is the day before the cast and crew arrive in Truro. “That means you will be the guys who have the closest performance to the actual birthday which is quite amazing,” saysperformer Kristian Lavercombe. “I’m sure we’ll do something special in Truro – it’s such a big occasion.”
Kristian has played several Rocky Horror parts over the years, with hunched butler Riff-Raff as his constant: he estimates that he has embodied the role 2,400 times over a 12-year period,including the current tour.
“I don’t think anyone could have possibly imagined this show would be going 50 years on,” says the New Zealand-born actor. “But it’s stronger than ever. It’s iconic – people adore it.”
The show pays humorous tribute to the sci-fi and horror B movies from the 1930s onwards. Newly engaged couple Brad and Janet find themselves caught in a storm and take shelter in the homeof mad scientist, Dr Frank-N-Furter, who unveils his new creation: the artificially made, physically perfect Rocky.
An enormous part of the appeal is surely the audience interaction. While many musicals have asked theatre-goers to respect performers by keeping shtoom, in Rocky Horror, they are activelyencouraged to call out – and as Riff-Raff, Kristian leads the crowd in the show’s signature number, jumping to the left in the Time Warp.
“Rocky Horror has always been the underdog, always defied the rules,” says Kristian, his cheeky Devon Rex miaowing in the background. “It’s a little bit subversive, a lot of fun. It was one of the first shows that sent out a message that you can be whoever you want to be, don’t worry what anyone else thinks. It was ahead of its time, and that means a lot to people.”