The Rocky Horror Picture Show from 1975 is a cult classic that built it's fame through late night showings where audience members would participate en masse with what was happening on the screen. It's a phenomenon that could never be predicted or duplicated.
Last night, Fox tried to do a new Rocky Horror Picture Show and the results were mixed at best. Part of the problem is that for anyone who has seen the original more than once, last night's production was bound to be a failure before it aired. The performances of Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O'Brien, Meatloaf and the rest of the original cast are iconic. Every performance would be compared to the original.
I watched the broadcast last night with my friend Ashley, who is a big fan of musicals and familiar with the music form Rock Horror but has never seen the original film. She looked at the broadcast differently than I did.
The film opened with Ivy Levan as an usherette performing Science Fiction / Double Feature, a song originally done by O'Brien. This was a promising opening and lead into Damn It, Janet! performed by Victoria Justice as Janet and Ryan McCartan as Brad. This was also done well and showcased one of the standouts of the show, Justice. McCartan's role demanded him to be stiff and awkward, hiding his talent until later in the film. After a decent version of Over At Frankenstein Place came one of the most important songs in the whole thing, Time Warp. Reeve Carney was good as Riff-Raff but he didn't really bring anything of himself to the role. Rather he seemed to be trying really hard to be the O'Brien version of the character, even down to the way he spoke. He lead the song along with Christina Milian and Annaleigh Ashford into a fun version of the song. Ashford was another standout performance.
At this point I was enjoying the show well enough. And then things took a downhill turn. The Time Warp and the next three song would make or break any version of Rocky Horror. Sweet Transvestite, I Can Make You A Man and Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul is where we meet Doctor Frankenfurter and Eddie. Lavern Cox was cast in the Tim Curry role and where I think she did a great job on the song I'm Going Home at the end, she needed to hit a home run on these first two and she didn't. It's more than just comparing the two performance… because Curry's performance is beyond compare… but Cox's singing wasn't clear and her performance never really had the edge of the original. And then you come to Adam Levine as Eddie just seemed a chaotic mess. Plus his voice, where good, is no where near the voice of Meat Loaf.
Coming out of that into Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me where Justice did a very good job and like I said earlier Cox's performance of I'm Going Home were the highlights through the rest of the film. A pleasant surprise came during Floor Show where McCartan and Staz Nair who played Rocky got to step out of their stiffling roles and really sing and dance… we got to see how talented both of them really are.
Two other roles to mention are Ben Vereen as Doctor Scott and Tim Curry as the Criminologist. The incredibly talent Vereen did fine in the role, but it seemed a waste of talent. Having Curry in the production was a nice tip of the hat and a bit of melancholy at the same time as we see how much the stroke he had in May 2013 has affected him.
There are some movies that should never be remade. I truly believe that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of them. And where there were some nice performance last night, good visuals and a nice looking production… last nights remake just makes that belief stronger.