Growing up in the Midwest, watching the annual telecast of “The Wizard of Oz” was a cherished event. We planned for it and never missed it, there were no such things as DVDs, VHS tapes or cable.
I am a teacher, I have heard my current students making plans to watch television musical broadcasts together. They aren’t Face Timing. They aren’t Tweeting. They’re getting together – and talking!
The recent airing of “Grease: Live” inspired a coordinated group outing. “The Wiz Live!” spurred debates about the positive and negative impacts of the lack of a live audience, and my students debated the casting choices in “The Sound of Music Live!”
I am thrilled that television networks are bringing musical theater into our living rooms again, and I am thrilled for young people that these events elicit excitement and discussion.
On Thursday, October 20, 8/7c, FOX is offering a stellar cast, led by Emmy Award-nominated Laverne Cox, for their latest effort, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.” Joining Cox is the deliciously gender-fluid Adam Lambert as well as the delicious Reeve Carney. Tim Curry, London, Broadway and the film’s original Dr. Frank-N-Furter, makes a cameo appearance, as does Broadway legend Ben Vereen. Not only do we get to see the story, which premiered onstage in London in 1973 as The Rocky Horror Show, re-imagined with new artists, we get to enjoy the dazzling Ms. Cox’s interpretation of the iconic Frank-N-Furter.
It is impressive that the Rocky Horror story got beyond Broadway failure and became a cultural phenomenon. It only ran for 45 performances at Broadway’s Belasco Theatre in 1975, but the 1976 film version solidified its lasting impact. I remember high school friends traveling to St. Louis’ Tivoli movie theater in costume to participate in late night viewings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Today, we can watch a young Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry strut their stuff to the “Time Warp” any day we like with Xfinity On Demand. Though the structure of the stage play is lacking (I have been known to ponder how many mind-altering substances might have been ingested when constructing the musical), the movie is hugely entertaining. It will be thrilling to see the unique story anew through the lens of the inventive Kenny Ortega, and starring some of Broadway and television’s brightest stars. Let’s do the time warp again!Peter Reynolds, is the Artistic Director of the Mauckingbird Theatre Company