Fred­die Mer­cury would have made a good Frank-N-Furter

LET’S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN. ROCKY HOR­ROR SHOW CRE­ATOR RICHARD O’BRIEN TELLS MAR­ION McMULLEN WHY HE’LL NEVER FOR­GET THE OPEN­ING NIGHT OF THE CULT HIT

Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette - - Spotlight -

It is 45 years since The Rocky Hor­ror Show first opened. What is your strong­est mem­ory of the first open­ing night? VIN­CENT PRICE sit­ting dead cen­tre in the au­di­ence. Plus the re­lief that came with the first belly laugh from the house. There was also a thun­der­storm the first night, very wild and elec­tri­cal. It lit Vin­cent up a treat. Can you re­mem­ber any of the first re­views? THE re­views were ex­ceed­ingly gen­er­ous and we couldn’t have writ­ten them any bet­ter had we been al­lowed to do so. The word of mouth was as­ton­ish­ingly won­der­ful. The Rocky Hor­ror Show is more pop­u­lar than ever. What do you think is the en­dur­ing ap­peal? THERE is a simple, child­like joy in the piece which is all very Bri­tish and akin to a pan­tomime fairy­tale as seen through the eyes of a mid­dle class Amer­i­can. Any favourite au­di­ence heck­les over the years? I QUITE like those that pro­ceed stage di­a­logue. One that springs to mind is ‘How did you fin­ish your jig­saw puzzle?’ Be­fore Frank N Furter has to say ‘All the pieces seemed to fit into place’. Has there ever been any pres­sure to write a se­quel? ONLY from me at times of fool­ish­ness.

Have there been many celebrity fans do­ing the Time Warp over the years? I HAVE been in the pres­ence of grand­par­ents and grand­chil­dren af­ter a show. With celebri­ties they come to take a lit­tle walk on the wild side with us from time to time. There’s now a statue of you as your Rocky Hor­ror char­ac­ter Riff Raff in New Zealand. What movies in­spired the show and did you base the char­ac­ters on any­one? I WAS a low-brow, eter­nal ado­les­cent who adored pop­ulist themes, as a con­se­quence ALL the char­ac­ters are clichés of one sort or another. All eas­ily recog­nis­able, which adds fur­ther en­joy­ment to the au­di­ence. What is your strong­est child­hood mem­ory? WANT­ING to be a girl. I lived in my head an aw­ful lot. Did you do any odd jobs be­fore turn­ing to act­ing? I CUT hair, drove a van, cleaned houses, pumped gas, rode horses in movies and worked back stage at the Cam­bridge The­atre. Is it true one of your early roles was a stunt rider in Carry On Cow­boy? YES, how­ever, all I had to do in re­al­ity was stay on the horse and do as the di­rec­tor or­dered. Was there ever a point when you came close to walk­ing away from show­busi­ness in the early days? YES, it was soon af­ter my first child was born and I thought that I should get a ‘real’ job as I now had an obli­ga­tion far greater than my own dreams. You’ve done so much in your ca­reer, from pre­sent­ing the Crys­tal Maze and play­ing the Child-catcher in

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to TV’s Phineas and Ferb. What is your own per­sonal high­light? I LOVE writ­ing lyrics and I get so much plea­sure out of com­ing up with a great cou­plet that I some­times want to go out and ac­cost a stranger in the street in or­der to sing it to them. It’s al­most as good as the feel­ing you get when you have as­sem­bled some Ikea flat-pack fur­ni­ture. You re­cently met the new tour­ing cast, which in­cludes Blue singer and Hol­lyoaks ac­tor Dun­can James and Strictly Come Danc­ing pro­fes­sional Joanne Clifton. What were your first im­pres­sions? THE nicest thing about young per­form­ers to­day is that they are far more ac­com­plished in ALL the dis­ci­plines than we were.

We were, at first, ac­tors who could sing and dance a bit. They on the other hand are far bet­ter all­rounders. And, as for Rocky him­self, back in the day, we could never find even a mus­cle hunk, let alone one who could turn in a per­for­mance. There have been many great Frank-N-Furters over the years. Who do you think would have been good in the part? FRED­DIE Mer­cury.

TO AWAKE with a cup of builders’ tea, a kiss from my wife Sab­rina and the knowl­edge that, later on in the day, a nice bot­tle of full bod­ied, red wine awaits me. What would be your per­fect day?

■ The Rocky Hor­ror Show tour starts on De­cem­ber 13 and runs un­til Novem­ber next year. Go to rocky­hor­ror.co.uk for tick­ets and venues.

Richard O’Brien

A scene from The Rocky Hor­ror Pic­ture Show, left, and the new stage show, right

Fred­die Mer­cury

Vin­cent Price

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