It was great when it all began!
The Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square: 16 June, 1973, 10:30 pm . A phenomenon was about to be born. It was the first preview of a new show about what was described as a “mysterious web of mutants, tame transvestites and muscle-bound monsters” ...
The ROCKY HORROR SHOW was coming to life!
One report of that remarkable evening describes how, though it was the middle of June, “thunder rolled across a lurid sky, lightning cracked and rain swept the streets in torrents”. It was the right way to begin. ROCKY was an instant hit.
The original run was scheduled to end on 7 July. But the final performance never happened, not because it was extended but because it was cancelled. With Mick Jagger in the audience but no Rocky on stage he didn’t have an understudy and was incapacitated when glitter found his way into his brief briefs.
The following month it opened again in King’s Road, at the dilapidated Classic Cinema Chelsea a venue already scheduled for demolition. As Variety prophetically noted in its review, “Rocky may be destined to be a peripatetic as well as hit existence”. The it would be peripatetic was confirmed by the fact that, on 3 November, it made its way to another crumbling Chelsea cinema, the Essoldo, where it would remain before finally and at last travelling to the West End, where it opened at the Comedy Theatre on 6 April, 1979. That it was a hit existence is confirmed by the fact that when it closed on 13 September 1980, it had run for a total of 2.960 performances.
Rocky next, inevitably, travelled across the Atlantic, opening on the West Coast in Los Angeles on 24 March, 1974, scheduled for nine months, during which time the deal was set up to commit the show to celluloid. It was filmed in a mere six weeks; but when it was first launched in 1975, was a commercial failure. SO was the Broadway production in spring 1975 which closed after having given a total of only 45 performances.
But the legend lived on, and refused to go away. The film has achieved success as a cult midnight-matinee feature, in which the audience have become an essential part of the action. And the stage show has been seen everywhere in the world Rocky has become an international symbol, a phenomenon of worldwide proportions.