BWW Interview: Cast of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW Discuss The Tour
Richard O'Brien's cult musical Rocky Horror Show is celebrating the 45th anniversary of the stage show with a new touring production, which launches at Brighton Theatre Royal on 13 December.
What made you want to be part of Rocky Horror?
Joanne: I didn't know much about it, to be honest. The audition came up and I got the piece through to do the scene where I'm in bed with the transvestite! It was the most fun thing, the funniest audition I've ever done. And that made me think "Yes, I want to do this".
Ben: I hadn't seen the film. My dad had loved it, which I guess initially made me want to stay away from it. But my friend had some tickets for when it was on in Wimbledon. Everyone was dressed up! The amazing thing for me was that I didn't know anything about it, but just song after song I thought "I do know this!". When [the tour] came up. I knew I had to do it.
Dom: For me, it's total fear. I've never done any theatre or live work. I've not wanted to because it's just not my bag. My thing is so different from theatre. I think most people love having a script, but I fear a script. Everything I do is improv. All of Trigger Happy is by nature, meeting people and not knowing what they're going to say. It's all made up.
I saw the film in 1990. I remember wandering into the Gate and seeing all these people dressed up and shouting, which I loved. Because I'm the narrator, everyone else is supposed to ignore the shoutouts, but I'm allowed to go back on them. There's an element of spontaneity that I think will be really good for me. I've only ever done stuff totally on my own so I like the idea of having a family, a company, and doing something live.
Are there any numbers or moments you're looking forward to performing?
Dom: Jo's [moment of pleasure] is really quite something. We'll all enjoy that.
Ben: Yes, it's very loud. I really like the song "Dammit, Janet". That's one of my favourite songs from the show. We've actually recorded a version of it that will be released fairly soon on Spotify.
Dom: Christmas number one?
Ben: In Kenya maybe! I love that song.
Dom: I'll be really honest with you, I hate musicals. I thought I wasn't going to enjoy the musical side of it, as the improv aspect attracted me more. But I realised I know every song in it and I've only seen the film once! So obviously I love "Timewarp", but I've loved all the numbers from the start.
Joanne: I'm looking forward to not doing much dancing! We've only really got the "Timewarp". Ben and I have just come off Flashdance, which had a lot more movement.
How are you finding rehearsals, Dom? That'll be a new experience for you...
Dom: Even though I don't have much dancing in the show, I was terrified by the group warm-up. On Day One they just said "Do your vocal warm-up" and I thought "What's a vocal warm-up?", and everyone around me bursts into "Somewhere over the rainbow...".
And then on Day Two I turn up and everyone's in dance gear. No one told me, so I just took my jumper off and got involved!
Ben and Joanne, how are you finding playing opposite each other again in a new show with a different dynamic?
Dom: It freshens up the marriage, doesn't it?
Ben: It does, doesn't it? Yeah, this is our difficult second album but it's great. We had such a great time on Flashdance. We were only supposed to do six months, but then we extended because we were having so much fun. This came up and we decided to go for it again. Flashdance, for whatever reason, whatever we were doing there was working, so here we are.
Dom: Did you know each other before working on Flashdance?
Joanne: No, we didn't.
Dom: So you've literally had a honeymoon on Flashdance and now you're 'Happily married' on Rocky!
Ben, how do you balance doing a show with touring with your band A1, checking in on your show Eugenius!, and everything else you do?
Ben: You just do it all at the same time!
Joanne: Then there's all your songs that you produce too. You brought your little sound desk on tour with you. Even in the dressing room between scenes, he was working, because he wasn't reeeeally doing much in Flashdance...
Dom: What's Eugenius!?
Ben: I wrote a musical called Eugenius!, which was on at Andrew Lloyd Webber's theatre in London. Earlier this year I was very busy with Flashdance, and then this coming up, A1's 20th reunion and Eugenius! as well. Over Christmas I'm just focusing on this. Just one show.
Any other projects coming up?
Joanne: Well, Ben and I have actually written our first musical together.
Ben: Yeah, during the first six months of Flashdance we just mucked about and went to the pub, but after that we thought, "Let's use our time well", so we wrote a musical which we're starting to workshop now. We can't tell you what it's called yet, but it's happening.
Dom: This would be a good opportunity to announce my musical, Trigger Happy the Musical.
Ben: Are you?
Do you have any "Dammit, Janet" moments? Stage mishaps?
Ben: On Flashdance we couldn't really keep a straight face most of the time. We had several performances where we just had to stop singing halfway through the song.
Joanne: We couldn't keep a straight face...
Ben: ...which WON'T be happening on Rocky. Once I came on stage in just my pants. There are supposed to be clothes on the bed on stage so I can get dressed and go to work as part of the scene, but they'd forgotten to lay the clothes out!
Dom: So you were just like "I'm off to work, honey!".
Joanne: Yeah, it was a lovey-dovey scene too, so my lines were "Good luck!" etc. and he just walked off in his pants!
Dom: I've had loads of weird experiences. My favourite one on Trigger Happy was when I was playing a spy character. The joke was I'd go up to someone on a bench, push a suitcase over to them and say, "You have the documents", and then go, "Oh I'm sorry, you're the wrong spy".
We went to this weird garden in London that we hadn't filmed in before, went over to the first guy and after saying the line, he just looked at me, got up and darted off, which I thought was a bit weird. So I start doing it to the next guy, who again looked at me quite weirdly.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, three plain-clothed guys had me, hands behind my back, and pushed me to the floor. It turns out I was in the park by the Ministry of Defence and everyone in that garden worked there!
What would be your dream double feature at the movies?
Joanne: Sister Act II and Kindergarten Cop. My favourites.
Ben: I'd go for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the original one) and then Goonies. They're just great movies.
Dom: Betty Blue and Being Mad.
Why should people come see Rocky?
Dom: Rocky is the alternative to pantomime. I have a deep fear of pantomime - this isn't pantomime, but it's kind of got that same feeling to it. When we did the read-through yesterday I didn't realise just how funny Rocky Horror is. It's seriously funny.
The songs are really good. It's something you can bring (almost) all of the family along to, although some of the shoutouts are quite close to the bone, but you know what I mean.
Are you looking forward to spending the weeks around Christmas in Brighton?
Dom: There's something about Brighton and Rocky Horror that go together. They've staged it here before and there's a real fondness for the show here. I think there's a real community here that are massive fans of it.
Rocky Horror is all about saying it's alright to try not to fit in and everyone's different. I think it appeals to Brighton - not so much Hove, but it's very much on brand for Brighton.
Joanne: Yeah there's a Rocky Horror mural outside on the wall [by Sinna One].
Dom: And [Brighton chocolatier] Chockywoccydooda have done a window display.
Ben: It's the 45th anniversary of Rocky, which is very special. We met Richard O'Brien two weeks ago and he said this was the most important year of the show ever.
Dom: I thought he said it was the "best cast" he's ever seen?
The Rocky Horror Show at Theatre Royal Brighton from 13 December and then tours the UK
Photo credit: The Rocky Horror Show