|This guy's approaching 70 now? Time to do the Time Warp.|
|I imagine at some point in the future, the Tim Curry/Bernadette Peters/Carol Burnett version of "Easy Street" will show up on the Dance Party. It's clearly a favorite show tune of mine, having appeared here with the great Dorothy Loudon, and here with the great Alan Cumming. But the truth is, just about everything in this film version of Annie fails, including this number. So this version will have to wait.|
|As Spamalot's King Arthur, Tim (center) earned a Tony nomination. His costar Hank Azaria (far left) was also nominated; they both lost the award to Norbert Leo Butz in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Always look on the bright side of life!|
Curry's previous Broadway appearances include a fascinating one, at least to me. The film version of Amadeus is a masterful example of stage-to-screen adaptation, and the performances in it can't be beat. I simply cannot see anyone else but Tom Hulce in the role of Mozart, but astonishingly, Tim Curry originated the role on Broadway.
|Curry as Broadway's Amadeus, opposite Ian McKellan.|
I'd give a lot to have seen that performance, which was nominated for a Tony (Tim lost the award to his costar Ian McKellan, playing Salieri. In an instance of history repeating itself, when the film was released, Hulce playing Mozart lost his Oscar to the actor playing his Salieri, F. Murray Abraham).
|When My Favorite Year became a musical,|
Curry took Peter O'Toole's role, modeled
on Sid Caesar. Another Tony loss followed,
this one to Brent Carver in Kiss of the
But back to birthday boy Tim Curry. He has apparently developed a bit of a following for his performance as Pennywise the Clown in the TV miniseries , Stephen King's It, a performance I did not see, as I can't stand horror films.
|Pennywise the Clown|
But let's face it. No matter the bulk of Tim Curry's work since then, he will always be inexorably connected to the Rocky Horror phenomenon.
|A more bizarre sex symbol cannot be|
imagined, but Curry's Frank attracted
both men and women. Hide the children.
This bizarre mix of sci-fi, horror, and rock-and-roll was put on film in 1975, and was a resounding flop. Then some young hotshot at Fox Studio suggested that the movie be released on college campuses, to be shown at midnight. A cult classic was born.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is unofficially acknowledged to hold the record for the longest running film ever, as it's still technically in its initial release to all the art houses which still hold midnight showings.
The participatory aspect of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a phenomenon of its own, and has been featured in pop culture for decades.
But Rocky Horror did not begin with the midnight showings of the film. It began in London in 1973, in a tiny 60 seat upstairs theatre, and the cast included most of the actors who would recreate their performances for the film two years later. The offbeat show was a smash, and moved twice to larger theaters (actually, to converted movie houses) before closing after almost 3000 performances. Tim Curry had long gone by then, as Hollywood beckoned.
|The Roxy was not a theatre, but a nightclub/concert|
venue. For RH, tables were set up, and a ramp bisected
the audience, allowing actors to enter from the rear.
In 1974, The Rocky Horror Show, with Tim Curry as its secret weapon, traveled to Los Angeles for its American stage premiere at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CA. And I was there.
The Roxy Theatre really wasn't one. A makeshift stage popped up at one end of the small room, and tables were set up for the audience to sit and drink. There was no wing space, the actors made their entrances down a ramp which stretched from the back of the room to the stage. We looked UP to see the action.
|When Trixie the Usherette appeared to announce|
the "Science Fiction Double Feature," in clown
makeup and fishnets, I suspected this musical
was not going to resemble my recent high school
production of Hello, Dolly.
I had an immediate affection for the nerdy Narrator (who became the Criminologist in the film). This was, in fact, the only actor in the piece I recognized, from his numerous TV appearances.
|Graham Jarvis narrated Rocky Horror at the |
Roxy. He would later go on to play a leading
role in the soap spoof Mary Hartman,
He was an absolute scream, and his performance placed the role of the Narrator on my Bucket List, before we even called it that. Even at age 19, I knew that one day, I'd love to play it. But even my affection for the dry delivery of a one-liner was overshadowed by the electric entrance of Tim Curry as Frank N. Furter. That entrance, from the film version, is this week's Dance Party, and it's plenty powerful in the movie. But it does not compare to the star's live entrance at the Roxy.
As I said, the stage was a makeshift one, so there was no elevator or wingspace or anything. Instead, Curry made his entrance from behind the audience. To the driving beat of his first number, he strode down the ramp, which was raised above eye level of the audience. Tim must be 6'4" at least, and parading around in his garish high heels, he towered over the audience. You didn't look at him, you looked UP at him. And you couldn't look away.
Curry spent a lot of years running away from his phenomenal success in Rocky Horror, but, as stars who inadvertently create iconic characters usually do, he has reconciled himself to the fact that his participation in the cult classic will be the headline of his obituary. No one needs to be told, I imagine, that the clip below features the very young Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick, not that you pay much attention to them once Tim Curry explodes onto the screen. So let's enjoy one of the most unusual star entrances in the history of musical film: