It's a going to be very non-traditional Broadway show," explains producer Jordan Roth, who is bringing the original stage version of The Rocky Horror Show to a Tony eligible theatre in time for a Halloween opening this season.
"Rocky Horror will come straight to a Broadway house," Roth added, with no out-of-town tryout.
Director Christopher Ashley (Drama Dept.'s Communicating Doors, As Thousands Cheer and Claudia Shear's Blown Sideways Through Life at the New York Theatre Workshop) will helm the show, Roth said.
The son of producer Daryl Roth (Wit, Three Tall Women and The Bomb-itty of Errors) and himself the producer of the Off-Broadway hit, The Donkey Show, Roth told Playbill On-Line that he is also well into negotiations for his entire creative team, which may be announced shortly. Theatre negotiations are also well underway, but the real scuttlebut on the show involves casting, which is being done by Bernard Telsey.
Production sources confirm that Broadway singer and actress Alice Ripley (The Dead, Side Show), actress and comedienne Lea De Laria (On the Town) and performance artist Sandra Bernhard have all been in to do what were described as "drop dead brilliant meetings, auditions and presentations," for the show. Reports that any parts have actually been cast are premature, sources said. In 1996, the New York Post linked Sandra Bernhard to a Broadway revival of Rocky Horror in which she would have bended gender and played Frank 'n' Furter. That production never materialized and, for this go 'round, Bernhard is rumored to be in line for the role of Magenta.
Roth said the show will be "absolutely as interactive" as audiences would expect The Rocky Horror Show to be. Over the years, the stage and film versions of the show have engendered a strong fan base, which, despite its size, has been described as a cult following. "People can expect the show to be done in the same way that audiences have always responded to Rocky Horror," Roth said, "meaning the way that the music and characters inspire people to sing and dance and interact with each other. That's the experience of the Rocky Horror show live."
The stage version of the show ran on Broadway for about one month in 1975. The film version, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," was also released in 1975 and was directed by Jim Sharman. The film featured many members of the Broadway cast and starred Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O'Brien, Jonathan Adams, Meatloaf, Little Nell (Campbell), Charles Gray and Patricia Quinn.
The devout within the sprawling Rocky Horror cult can take solace in the producer's assurance of artistic purity. Though Roth's current Off Broadway show, The Donkey Show was adapted from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and his mother's recent hit, The Bomb-itty of Errors was based on the Bard's Comedy of Errors, there is no adaptation planned for The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
"This is not going to be an adaptation," Roth insists. "The movie was actually based on the original stage show, which it followed quite faithfully. This is the stage show and it's not adapted, reworked or 'reconcepted.' But, it is certainly going to be a 'Rocky Horror' experience unlike any other."
Roth said he is impressed by the "serious interest he has already seen over the production. "It's truly remarkable to see the amount of talent from the theatre world and from other worlds," Roth said. "Everybody really has a wonderful connection to this material and a memory of the first time they saw it."
The Rocky Horror Show is currently scheduled to start previews Oct. 3, in preparation for a Halloween opening. But where? The Henry Miller Theatre at 124 W. 43 St., which is once again Tony eligible, is a likely candidate. This is the theatre where both Cabaret and Rollin' on the T.O.B.A. were staged, when it was run as the Kit Kat Klub. Though mentioned as a likely destination for Rocky Horror, production sources suggest that other venues are being considered.
Either way, producer Roth predicts, "It'll be the Halloween Party of the year."