MUSICAL THEATRE/CAPE TOWN/ JOHANNESBURG/ THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW: Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show, Cape Town (December 6, 2019 to January 12, 2020) and Johannesburg (January 17, 2020 to March 1, 2020)
The Rocky Horror Show – interview with Craig Urbani who plays the shape-shifting Dr Frank ‘n ‘Furter .
Urbani: “Dr Frank ‘n ‘Furter is a misunderstood, confused, over sexed, highly intelligent, somewhat dangerous, hilarious and quirky alien!”
Read on for more from Urbani, but first production credits, ticket info and booking alert.
Company: The cast includes Craig Urbani (Dr Frank ‘n ‘Furter), Kate Normington (The Narrator), Anthony Downing, Marlee van der Merwe, Stefania Du Toit Lombard, Zak Hendrikz, Jarryd Nurden, Jessica Sole, Usisipho Nteyi, Robin Timm, Tyla Dee Nurden and Sean Louw.
Producers: Pieter Toerien Productions/Pieter Toerien and Howard Panter (UK)
Dates: Cape Town, Artscape Theatre Centre Opera House, December 6, 2019 to January 12, 2020 and Johannesburg, Teatro Montecasino, from January 17, 2020 to March 1, 2020)
Bookings: Computicket. This is the authorized ticket seller. Direct link: https://tickets.computicket.com/…/the_rocky_horror…/2819516/ Other ticket sellers are popping up on the internet- and quoting inflated prices for tickets. These tickets may or may not be legit. Be safe and do not be scammed. Book at Computicket
It is very exciting for South Africans to see this production of The Rocky Horror Show which follows the parameters of a revival UK tour (2012–13), overseen by Richard O’Brien – the show’s creator.
O’Brien wrote the lyrics, book and music. The original stage production of The Rocky Horror Show premiered in London in 1973 at The Royal Court Theatre. The iconic film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show premiered in 1975. (“Picture” was added in to the title for the film. The stage production is The Rocky Horror Show).
For The Rocky Horror Show SA Tour 2019/2020, we are getting the same set, costumes, choreography as with UK revival under the keen eye of O’Brien.
Director Christopher Luscombe (UK) has been in South Africa, rehearsing with the cast. Anton Luitingh is the resident director in South Africa.
Yes, we have seen other productions of The Rocky Horror Show in SA, but this is the first production in South Africa which has been configured according to the original as conceptualised by O’Brien.
It is ridiculous to say: “We have seen Rocky already.” When Macbeth or another Shakespeare comes along, do you say – “already seen”? No. Shakespeare is a brilliant story teller. His narratives are timeless and universal. Each production is different – with varying conceptual approaches. Same goes for musicals. There are a limited number of musicals which are off- the-charts in terms of excellence. We know the words and the music and we sing along as we watch. It is interesting to see different versions of musicals. The difference with this production of The Rocky Horror Show is that it not a version. It is the original production –with some tweaks by its creator, O’Brien.
Looking at photos from the 1973 London stage production, I was astounded at the resemblance between Tim Curry playing Frank and the pics of Frank Urbani as Frank. Extraordinary.
With The Rocky Horror Show, Urbani has come full circle. His first professional theatre role was in 1992, playing Rocky in the Rocky Horror Show. Here he is 27 years later, as the key protagonist, Dr Frank ‘n ‘Furter. This production marks his third character portrayal in Rocky Horror. Urbani: “I was Rocky in Colin Law’s production in 1992 and then I played Brad in 1993 for a run in Durban.”
The multi-talented Urbani has had a big career in South Africa and in London (where he was based for ten years), performing in musicals such as The Buddy Holly Story (as Buddy). His vast CV includes Grease, Happy Days, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Contact, Kiss Me Kate. Other engagements included two Royal Variety performances; gigs with Cliff Richard at the Palladium and working with Paul McCartney during Buddy Holly week. In South Africa, he has mesmerised us in Chicago and in other musicals. He is now based in Johannesburg.
Craig Urbani talking The Rocky Horror Show South Africa 2019/20:
TheCapeRobyn: Your earliest memory of watching The Rocky Horror Show or watching the film?
Craig Urbani: I had seen the movie when I was too young to know what was happening. I remember loving the music but finding the story very odd. Of course when I did it in 1992 it all started making sense and my love affair with Rocky began.
I’m a huge fan of the show and I’ve seen productions of it all over the world. Ever since I performed in the show I have dreamt of playing Frank. This literally is a dream come true.
TheCapeRobyn: You look so much like Tim Curry in the original production. Are we seeing him re-incarnated through you?
Craig Urbani: We are extremely blessed to have the creative team here from the UK who have worked closely with Richard O’Brien and who know and understand the show and what makes it a success. They have staged productions all over the world which respect and serve the original ideas of the piece and what it was intended to be while at the same time paying respect to the movie and what the fans have come to expect. They get it. I can’t get Tim Curry out of my mind’s eye, so I’m pretty certain that my Frank will have moments that are very “him”. I’m not setting out to mimic him but it is so difficult when his superb performance is so engrained in me. Hopefully we get a balance of what Tim Curry did and what I can bring to it.
TheCapeRobyn: Dr Frank ‘n ‘Furter is a complex persona- shape-shifting – feeding into our desires fears, hopes?
Craig Urbani: He is a mix. I believe that the joy of this character lies in the switching from camp to butch in a split second. From funny and bizarre to dark and dangerous. He is not a drag queen! He is a transsexual from another planet called Transylvania.
The performance has to be full of surprises and side steps. That’s why Tim Curry was so awesome: Light and camp one second and growling and butch the next. That’s where the charm and mystery is.
He is such a layered and complex character. There is the fact that he is not human which I think is often forgotten. He is not simply a drag queen with too much make up on strutting around. Although I do like to strut. There is a darkness to him which must be portrayed. After all the murders Eddie and in a grandiose and God like fashion, he creates a creature. Of course the Frankenstein references are prevalent here. He is a misunderstood, confused, over sexed, highly intelligent, somewhat dangerous, hilarious and quirky alien!
TheCapeRobyn: The original stage musical was very much about celebrating sci-fi and B-movies, B grade horror with transvestism/blurred sexuality tossed in and Frank is at the centre of that all?
Craig Urbani: The B grade horror feel is most certainly there. Richard O’Brien was obsessed with these movies and this genre. He was also a man battling to express his sexuality growing up. He was extremely brave and bold and certainly rebellious and ground breaking in throwing it all into the mix of what ultimately became this show and movie. For its time this shocked much of the world but certainly resonated with people who were experiencing similar feelings and difficulties like Richard was. Of course these things are much more accepted in our world today.
TheCapeRobyn: There have been other versions of The Rocky Horror Show and here you are in the original stage production– which most people living in SA have not seen- because it hasn’t been staged here – up to now?
Craig Urbani: It is inevitable that comparisons will be made. This is both exciting and daunting. But I think that under the guidance of our director and musical supervisor we will manage to strike a balance that reminds the audiences of Tim and what they’ve come to see, while we hopefully create some new and fresh ideas as well.
This will be The Rocky Horror Show in its purest form. No over indulgence from any of the characters. In this production we will tell the story and rock the songs as it was intended to be. We will serve the piece.