Rocky Horror creator Richard O’Brien has been tinkering around with sequels to his greatest creation ever since the musical gained iconic status.
Back in 1981 he came up with Shock Treatment which, after being plagued by finance problems, was eventually made into a low budget movie that gained a certain cult following on DVD.
But there was always more hope of it being a success as a stage musical and, on Tuesday, it gets its chance at Islington’s King’s Head Theatre.
The fishnets have been swapped for surgical scrubs in this unofficial sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show which features some of the original characters from the cross-dressing extravaganza.
The cast includes Neighbours’ Mark Little, The Twins Macabre and Julie Atherton.
Written by O’Brien and composer Richard Hartley the “equal-sequel” predicts the rise of reality TV.
Brad and Janet return to get sucked into a world of crazed contestants, fame-hungry presenters and money-grabbing executives both in front and behind the cameras.
Set several years after The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Brad and Janet’s marriage is failing and they return to their hometown of Denton to find it’s not the idyllic suburb they remember.
Invited onto the smash-hit TV show Unhappy Homes by their childhood friends – and Denton’s hottest TV couple – Betty and Ralph Hapschatt – they’re plunged into the world where people are willing to do anything in front of a camera for a taste of fame.
The naive couple fall foul of dirty doctors and naughty nurses and are torn apart by the talons of TV executive Farley Flavors, whose new television show, Faith Factory, will guarantee that at least one person is going to receive the shock of their life.
Mark Little, who plays ruthless TV executive Farley Flavors, is best known as Joe Mangel in soap opera Neighbours. In theatre, his one man West End show Defending the Caveman won the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment in 2000.
Ben Kerr plays Brad Majors opposite Avenue Q star Julie Atherton as his wife Janet. The roles of Cosmo and Nation McKinley, originally played by Richard O’Brien and Patricia Quinn in the 1981 film, will be played by comedy horror duo The Twins Macabre, recently seen on BBC3’s Live at the Electric.
Ralph Hapschatt will be played by Mateo Oxley, and Rosanna Hyland takes on the role of Betty Hapschatt which was played by Ruby Wax in the 1981 film.
Director Benji Sperring said: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show had changed my life when I saw it while growing up in a repressed, single-parent family in the Black Country where the word “gay” was one of the worst things to be called, both at home and at school.
“On first watching Shock Treatment, I saw huge potential for the show on stage.
“Throughout my career I’ve been in contact with Richard O’Brien to ask about adapting it for the stage. Ten years ago, I got a “no”. Eight years ago, I got a “not now”. Five years ago, I got a “maybe soon”. Two years ago, I got a “so tell me your ideas…”, and in 2014 I got the golden “let’s do it” that I’ve been waiting for – so you can imagine the ideas have been building up for a while; call it a labour of love!”
Richard O’Brien said: “Why now? Mysteries abound, but we looked for someone who believed in the work. I have always been of the opinion that it would work better as a stage play; the atmosphere, the studio, the lights, bring the show to the audience in a way the film cannot.
“Hearing the ideas of Tarquin Productions they saw the potential and possibilities of something which has waited patiently on the shelf for many years, and one can only hope that the excellent energy and enthusiasm they are bringing to the project will be seductively palpable through the show.
“It was our ideas that created the work originally, but it is their ideas that have shaped it to what it will become.”
Shock Treatment opens in preview tomorrow night and runs until June 6.