The Prowl

“Rocky Horror” falls flat but has a lasting impact of the LGBTQ community

Anya Mansell, Co-Editor in Chief

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“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has amassed a notoriously zealous cult following since its premiere in 1975. Famous for filling theatres to the rafters while decked out in character costumes and reciting songs along with the movie, “Rocky Horror” zealots have built up a loyal underground fan base that still thrives today at midnight shows throughout the country.

In the original tale, the newly engaged Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) experience car trouble on a dark and stormy night, leading them to Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s (Tim Curry) castle, which is teeming with off-the-wall characters, like the leering, scraggly “handyman,” Riff Raff (Richard O’ Brien). The initial clash between the modest, conservative Brad and Janet and the bold, brassy Transylvanians hooked the audience immediately.

The reserved couple comes to find that Dr. Frank-N-Furter is about to awaken his own Frankenstein’s monster, but this time “with blonde hair and a tan.” The openly gay implications of this relationship between Frank-N-Furter and his creation, Rocky, was part of what made “Rocky Horror” so enduring.

Another factor that has allowed Rocky Horror to survive for more than four decades was its music. The show is peppered with original, catchy, and iconic showstoppers. The original production was shrouded in a glamorous but unpolished aura, which fed the show’s organic vibe despite such a bizarre premise. Its sense of humor was inexplicable – completely its own.

Though the FOX revamp sticks to the original script to the letter, the reproduction tries and fails to capture the mannerisms of “Rocky Horror’s” characters. Its actors, namely Victoria Justice as Janet and Reeve Carney as Riff Raff, spend so much time mimicking the character’s affectations that they disappoint in capturing the feeling that Rocky Horror fosters, one of complete freedom and inhibition – of shock value and excitement.

Despite being too squeaky clean to summon the excitement of its predecessor, one saving grace of the production was the music. The performances, though not as electric or authentic as the originals, are well choreographed and sung. Ultimately, to a newcomer who has never seen the 1975 version, the show would be a lot of fun.

Another important difference to mention in the discussion of this revival is that this time around, transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter is played by real-life transgender woman Laverne Cox, rather than the male Tim Curry. The shift from the depiction of a “transvestite” (now an outdated term) to an actual transgender person is a watershed moment for the LGBTQ community.

Cox has been hailed as an icon in the gay community, praised for her portrayal of transgender character Sophia Burset in hit Netflix original “Orange is the New Black.” As more and more transgender characters begin to emerge in pop culture, the more transgendered teenagers and adults will feel comfortable and accepted by mainstream society.

Here are some members of Providence’s chapter of the Gender Sexuality Alliance comments on the lasting impact of Cox’s rendition of Curry’s iconic Frank-N-Furter:

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The student news site of Providence High School
“Rocky Horror” falls flat but has a lasting impact of the LGBTQ community