You all know the time warp but how many of you actually know The Rocky Horror Picture Show? It’s probably surprisingly little as I was surprised to discover. Rocky Horror has been one of my favourite musicals since I was a teenager. A bizarre story line, catchy music and witty, seductive humour. Rocky Horror is a beautiful, dirty pleasure. I thought it was a staple movie everyone had seen but upon telling people I had tickets, a great deal told me they had never seen it and had no idea what it was about. This shocked me as I know it as a global phenomenon.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show opened in 1973 at the experimental space Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre. Richard O’Brien wrote it one winter to occupy him whilst he was an unemployed actor and had no idea the sensation it would become. It’s success led to bigger London venues, travelling across the Atlantic popping up in cities across the US, opening on Broadway and filming a movie in 1975. The movie was even more successful with people turning up to screenings in costume, singing along and even heckling in time to the script. The fans developed their own counter script in response to the dialogue and the movie became a cult phenomenon, the counter point dialogue being carried forth into the theatre. I have always wanted to be a part of one of these audiences, however, the last UK tour was in 2006 and cinema showings are far and few between. My friend was in agreement with me and upon announcing a UK tour, I quickly booked tickets for her birthday. That is how we ended up in Sunderland.
After a long journey getting there due to a combination of a dodgy sat-nav, a non-confident driver and stupid one-way systems, we finally arrived in Sunderland, half an hour away, a whole 95 minutes after setting off. We checked into the Premier Inn for the night which I was incredibly impressed with. The mass population raves about Premier Inn but in my sole experience a few years previous, I didn’t get the hype. Sure, the bed was comfy but there wasn’t room to swing a cat. The Travelodge is far more spacious and 95% of the time cheaper. So I always stuck with Travelodge over the two until surprisingly, the Premier Inn was cheaper in Sunderland. It was absolutely beautiful. For a budget hotel, it was incredible. Gorgeous layout, stunning design, incredibly spacious, a rainfall shower and a cloud for a bed. Safe to say, I was impressed.
For dinner, we went to Louie Louie’s World Buffet. I love a good buffet but I have never been to a world buffet before and I was spoilt for choice. The options were amazing. Chinese, Indian, Brazilian, Italian, Thai, Sushi… the list was endless. Plus unlimited Slush Puppies and waffles for dessert. I could not complain. For the buffet is was £12.99 plus an extra £2 for unlimited soft drinks and it was so worth the money. The food was delicious with endless variety. It is a perfect restaurant to attend with a fussy eater. While I adore Chinese and Indian, a lot of my friends stick solely to pizza and chicken nuggets so it can often be difficult to agree on a restaurant. Louie Louie’s ticks all the boxes and I would highly recommend it.
Stomach’s full, it was time to head back to the hotel and get our Horror on. Strapped into the corset, fishnets pulled up, pearls draped on, we were ready to go! The atmosphere in the theatre was incredible, the place was buzzing. Everywhere you looked there were men in heels, women in feather boas, basques, big hair, pearls, flesh on show, it was an exciting and amazing sight. Anyone in attendance who had no clue about the show or the cult following must have been seriously concerned wondering what on Earth they had let themselves in for.
The atmosphere only became more electric when the show started with singing, dancing and heckling. I have seen a lot of theatre in my time but it was the most exciting theatre experience of my life. The audience participation is so much fun and the energy in the theatre is on another level. The cast were also spot on, I could not fault a single aspect of the production. Every cast member portrayed the part beautifully. I was happily impressed by Diana Vickers and Ben Freeman who played Brad and Janet respectively. I’m not a fan of stunt casting and worried they would let the show down, especially Ben Freeman who I felt gave a poor performance in Legally Blonde. However, the were incredible and perfect. Liam Tamne was an absolutely golden Frank N Furter. I adore him anyway but he was superb. He was naughtily saucy and pervertedly sexy, traits I never thought I would compliment. People may kill me but he even topped Tim Curry in the role, he was simply utter perfection. I had the most incredible evening in the most incredible atmosphere watching the most incredible musical as part of the most incredible audience!
After the show, we decided to check out the night life in Sunderland. After a quick change, we headed to Basement home of Fun.House, the biggest gay night in Sunderland. We could have easily stayed in costume and fitted it as others did as it was the home to the drag queens. I have been on many a gay night out in my time, including all three G-A-Y’s and Heaven in London however, this was another level. This night was on heat. Everywhere you turned someone was grinding, people were eating each others face, girls were swinging round the pole… it was a sight to see. It was an incredibly bizarre atmosphere but the music was banging and the drinks were a steal. Megan McKenna, star of Ex On The Beach was making a guest appearance which we stayed for before making a swift exit. I’d recommend it if you fancy getting a bit frisky or are incredibly drunk, otherwise you will probably just feel a little lost.
Not your typical night out but you gotta love to be different!
Are you a Rocky Horror fan?
*All opinions are my own and just that: opinions.
*This blog post was not sponsored or endorsed in any way.
*Cover photo courtesy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show UK.