Avenue Q star Julie Atherton is to play Janet in the highly anticipated Rocky Horror sequel, a role previously played by Jessica Harper in the film and made famous by Susan Sarandon in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The world premiere production will run at London’s King’s Head Theatre from 17 April to 6 June (press night is Tuesday 21 April).
As well as her roles as Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut in the original London cast of Avenue Q, Atherton also starred as Sister Mary Robert in the first UK tour of Sister Act: The Musical and recently won critical acclaim playing the title role in Thérèse Raquin at the Finborough Theatre and the Park Theatre. Her third album, Rush of Life, was released at the end of 2014.
Rosanna Hyland takes on the role of Betty Hapschatt which was played by Ruby Wax in the 1981 film. Hyland was recently seen in the London production of Urinetown.
Nearly a quarter of a century after its film release, creator Richard O’Brien and composer Richard Hartley are collaborating with Tarquin Productions to bring the ’equal-sequel’ to the cult hit The Rocky Horror Picture Show to the stage. Predicting the rise of reality TV, Shock Treatment sees the return of Brad and Janet as they get sucked into a world of crazed contestants, fame-hungry presenters and money-grabbing executives both in front and behind the cameras. With a live band performing Hartley’s newly revised score in the intimate confines of the King’s Head Theatre, this production goes back to Rocky Horror’s roots by letting the audience get up close and personal.
The Rocky Horror Show, with book, music and lyrics by Richard O’Brien, premiered at the Royal Court in 1973 and was adapted for film in 1975. Three of the original cast appeared in the film, including Tim Curry in his feature film debut, as well as Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff. The film became a global phenomenon and is still shown in cinemas four decades later. Shock Treatment, released in 1981, reunited O’Brien with Rocky Horror’s director Jim Sharman as book writer, and the film’s musical arranger Richard Hartley as composer. The film included original cast members Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn and Little Nell in new roles, and cameos from Ruby Wax, Charles Gray, Barry Humphries and Rik Mayall.
Tarquin Productions was established in 2011 by artistic director Benji Sperring and is known for producing the world premiere of Ivor Novello’s final musical Valley of Song (Finborough 2014). The company aims to rejuvenate forgotten plays for the contemporary stage, with particular focus on shows that fit their motto ‘Glitter and Twisted’: work with a strong aesthetic, and a darker side of the human psyche.
Richard O’Brien, Richard Hartley and book writer Jim Sharman’s work has been adapted for the stage by Tom Crowley and Benji Sperring (who also directs). Set design is by Tim Shortall, musical direction and arrangements are by Alex Beetschen and choreography is by Lucie Pankhurst.