Rocky Horror Show arrives in Barcelona in autumn

Franco had died two years before the first and so far only visit of the Rocky horror show (theatrical version) to Barcelona.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
24 June 2023 Saturday 10:33
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Rocky Horror Show arrives in Barcelona in autumn

Franco had died two years before the first and so far only visit of the Rocky horror show (theatrical version) to Barcelona. 1977, the Spain of the transition and the uncovering. A show like no other, groundbreaking, a pioneer of counterculture, freedom, fluid sex and gender identity, seen by more than thirty million people around the world, is preparing to return next fall.

It is the contemporary musical that has been running for the longest time anywhere in the world, since its premiere in 1973 in the small room of the Royal Court Theater in London's Sloane Square, with only eight actors and four musicians. It was a success as revolutionary as it was unexpected, and from there to the West End, to Broadway and to the six continents, from Auckland to Buenos Aires, passing through Tokyo, South Africa and Tel Aviv. And since October 24, the same West End production that is currently on tour in England will stop at the Colisem in Barcelona, ​​in its original version.

The years have not passed for the Rocky horror show, a cult show passed down from generation to generation, from parents to children and grandchildren, with dedicated fans who dress up as the characters from the play (creation of the British New Zealander Richard O'Brien), they travel anywhere to see it, they know the script by heart and say their lines even ahead of the actors. "The participation of the public (different every night and in each place) is essential, it creates a unique atmosphere, even if it sometimes makes it a bit difficult to concentrate," says Stephen Webb, who plays Frank n Furter, the Martian transvestite who, in true Frankenstein fashion, he creates for his own personal pleasure a monster in the form of a physically perfect, handsome, blond, tanned, muscular man.

The delirious plot and the catchy pop and rock songs pay homage to the B-sci-fi and horror movies of the 1970s, from a humorous perspective, which nevertheless raises questions of sexual and gender identity that are more relevant than ever today. , and the freedom for everyone to be what they want to be. "It's a fun, sexy, naughty play, more popular than ever since the pandemic," says Kristian Lavercombe, a New Zealander like O'Brien, who has spent ten years and nearly 2,500 performances playing Riff Raff (a kind of hunchbacked butler from Frank). So much so that he has no home anywhere and lives permanently on the road, wherever the show goes.

The musical soon gave rise to a very similar film version, with the same characters and plots, which was released in theaters in the United States in 1975 with Tim Curry and a young Susan Sarandon in the role of Janet, the girl innocent and newly engaged who goes with her boyfriend to visit a former high school teacher who is an expert on UFOs. The car suffers a flat tire in the middle of a big storm and they take refuge in a castle that hosts the annual convention of secret agents of the Transylvania galaxy. Crazy? Of course. Lots of fun and laughter? Also. A unique night at the theater? Definitely. “With inflation, the cost-of-living crisis and skyrocketing ticket prices, people want safe value, little experimentation, and Rocky Horror gives it to them,” says Lavercombe, who would love to do some Cabaret emcee day.

“The message,” Webb says, “is that you don't have to be who you want to be and express yourself how you want to express yourself, in a time of cancellations, denials, identity debate and culture war. I think my character (Frank) is the alter ego of O'Brien, the author, but in reality they are all iconic and have something of him. He has been around for less time ("only" three years) than his co-star, and he regrets that in Great Britain the actors are much more pigeonholed than, for example, in the United States and Europe. “What would I like to do? The Phantom of the Opera, ”he says without hesitating for a second.

Rocky horror show has been performed in two hundred and twenty theaters in more than twenty countries, always received with enthusiasm except in New York in 1975, two years after its premiere at the Royal Court, when critics and the New York people were jealous that such a groundbreaking work would have been born in London and passed through Los Angeles before Manhattan. The current production is the fiftieth anniversary, and all tickets were sold out for performances at the Peacock Theater in Aldwych, in the English capital.

"Playing Frank I feel like a pop star, the play is at the forefront of counterculture, passion, sexuality, the fans are incredible, they live the show, they come back time after time," explains Stephen Webb, made up and dressed like every night to make Frank n Furter, one more day, one more show, in one more place, part of a universal show that has somehow managed to survive time.