Dust off your suspenders and strap yourself in for a rocky ride - the cheekiest show in theatre is back in Sunderland.
Next week sees the return of Richard O’Brien’s cult classic, Rocky Horror Show, which will be ruffling its feather boas on stage at Sunderland Empire.
In the role of narrator is Philip Franks who says the cast are looking forward to time-warping into Wearside.
It’s a part the stage and TV actor has found infectiously good fun.
“It’s enormous fun. I did the role a couple of years ago so when the opportunity came up to do it again I jumped at the chance,” he said. “This tour’s being done a bit differently as we have three narrators who are swapping around. I’ve got some good dates including Rome, which will be interesting, as I’m not sure how they’ll take it. And, of course, Sunderland, which was great fun last time.”
Philip, who rose to fame as Charlie in The Darling Buds of May and Sergeant Craddock in Heartbeat, will be joined on stage by S Club 7’s Paul Cattermole as
Eddie/Dr Scott; Liam Tamne as Dr Frank N Furter; Dominic Andersen as Rocky; Haley Flaherty as Janet; Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff and Richard Meek as Brad.
They’ll be bringing to life the tale of Brad and his fiancée Janet, two squeaky clean college kids who meet Dr Frank N Furter by chance when their car breaks down outside his house whilst on their way to visit their former college professor - a story which went on to spawn the cult 70s Rocky Horror Picture Show film.
Despite being first performed in June 1973, the raucous rock’n’ roll musical shows no sign of slowing down: it’s been performed worldwide for over 40 years in over 30 countries.
Philip, who has also played many leading roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company, says the key to its longevity is its originality.
“It’s such a completely unique show,” he said. “It’s been described as a pantomime for adults and that’s probably the best description. It’s good interactive fun and the audience are as much a part of the show as the cast is.
“For an actor it’s great, because although you do your lines each night, each audience interacts differently. You sort of have an idea what they’ll say, but you never know. It really keeps it fresh. You don’t just say your lines and leave it in the can.”
He added: “It’s quite scary at first but then you become kind of addicted to it. Except on a cold night in Birmingham when they just shout abuse. We did find on the last tour that the further North we went the noisier and warmer the crowds got. Sunderland and Scotland really got involved, but the Midlands were savage.”
The hit show, which famously merges science-fiction, horror, comedy and music, also features classic toe-tapping tracks including Science Fiction/Double Feature, Dammit Janet and timeless floor-filler, The Time-Warp.
Being the narrator, Philip says it’s the acerbic retorts from the crowd he looks forward to most.
“In a masochistic way I like the line when the narrator says ‘over, what’s over?’ and the audience replies ‘your career’,” he said. “All the interaction
can be strange for people who haven’t been before.
“But my advice is don’t be frightened, give into it, it’s enormously good-natured.”
•The Rocky Horror Show is at Sunderland Empire from Monday, November 7 to November 12. Tickets are available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022* or www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland.
*calls cost up to 7p per minute plus standard network charges.
•We’ve teamed up with Sunderland Empire to give away a pair of tickets to Rocky Horror on opening night,
To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: who wrote The Rocky Horror Show?
A) Richard O’Brien
B) Richard Madeley
C) Richard Branson
To be in with a chance of winning, send your answer and daytime telephone number to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk by noon on November 4.