When it comes to curtain up time at the Rocky Horror Show in Leeds on Monday night, one of its stars admits he will be nervously pacing backstage.
Heartbeat and Darling Buds of May star Philip Franks is taking on the role of The Narrator in the 40th anniversary touring production.
“The nerves give me the energy I need to do the show,” said 57-year-old Philip, who spent many years living in Yorkshire during his time on the hit YTV shows.
He also admits he was dubious about playing the role at first. “It’s totally different to anything I’ve done before. It’s a mixture of being in a musical and a comedy,” he said. “My friends who have played the part before warned me that the audience shout a lot.” Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show is renowned for its vivacious and interactive audience which “absolutely terrified” Philip at first. He said: “It is like a drug. Some nights are really loud and rowdy and others are quiet and then your disappointed.” But Philip remains impressed with northern audiences.
“There’s always a good reaction from northern towns, really rowdy.” According to Philip, the power of the show comes from the concentration of the cast and the interaction from the audience, as well as high-quality musical elements. The show features all of its famous musical classics including Science Fiction/Double Feature, Dammit Janet and of course, the timeless floor-filler, The Time-Warp.
Philip, who will be entertaining crowds of dressed-up northerners at Leeds Grand Theatre next week, hopes to also spend time visiting his favourite places in Leeds.
“I’m a bit of a cultural bore so I hope to be going to a regular haunt of mine, Leeds Art gallery. I’m not exactly a tourist in Yorkshire, it’s a beautiful place so I’m looking forward to having a wander around.”
Not only will Leeds bring back memories for Philip, who directed The Duchess of Malfi at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, but the show itself reminds him of when he first went to the theatre as a child.
“I saw the show as a schoolboy and I thought it was brilliant and terribly naughty,” he said.
Since The Rocky Horror Show’s first appearance at the Royal Court Theatre in June 1973, it has become the world’s favourite rock and roll musical. It has been performed worldwide for 40 years in over 30 countries in every continent and has been translated into more than 20 languages. The Rocky Horror Show tells the story 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 while on their way to visit their former college professor. It is an adventure they’ll never forget, with fun, frolics, frocks, and frivolity, bursting with timeless songs and outrageous outfits. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, this latest production famously combines science-fiction, horror, comedy and music and encourages audience participation meaning, of course, getting dressed in your most outrageous fancy dress.
The Rocky Horror Show was first performed on June 19 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre. It was an immediate success, transferring to three London theatres and was filmed for the cinema as The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1974. This film adaptation took over $135 million at the Box Office and is still shown in cinemas around the world 38 years after its premiere, making it the longest running theatrical release in film history.
Stars including Russell Crowe, Tim Curry, Jerry Springer and Meatloaf have appeared in stage show over the past 40 years.
In Leeds Philip Franks will be joined on stage by Eastenders and Hollyoaks star Sam Attwater who will play Brad, alongside 2012 Strictly Come Dancing finalist and Tracy Beaker star Dani Harmer as Janet.P hilip, Sam and Dani will be joined by West End actor Oliver Thornton, who stars as the lead character of Frank ‘n’ Furter.
The Rocky Horror Show is on at the Leeds Grand Theatre from June 10-15.
For online bookings go to www.atgtickets.com/rockyhorror
Ticket prices range from £17.50-£34.50 and additional discounts are available for ATG Theatre Card Holders and Millennium Club Members.