Fox’s ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ Remake: the Performances, From Best to Worst
It’s just a jump to left! The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or as Fox as bizarrely decided to stylize it, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Don’t Dream It, Be It, is arguably the one of the most iconic and timeless cult classics known to mankind.
Fox saw success with Grease! Live, and aimed to remake that magic by adapting the musical about all things queer and campy for broadcast TV. So did it leave you shivering with antici…pation?
We graded all the performances: from good to bad to just plain, uh...no.
"Hot Patootie" (5/5): HERE WE GO! Adam Lambert breaks through the window like the saving grace he is. Unless you live under a rock, Lambert’s vocal prowess is undeniable. And, despite the fact he looks like a Brooklyn hipster, he sings the hell out of this song and DELIVERS like a real American Idol. It was originally reported that Lambert was offered the role of Frank-N-Furter, but turned it down. One can’t help but wonder what could have been with Lambert’s pipes and stage presence.
"Rose Tint My World" (5/5): Another song no one remembers, but might be the best one from the show. In an all-gold number, Columbia (Broadway vet Annaleigh Ashford) SLAYS YET AGAIN. Although it's not a Speedo, we also got Rocky (Staz Nair) in a skin-tight gold leotard, which is a beautiful sight for every gay teenager who dreamed of their high school wrestling team. Brad (Ryan McCartan) hit a falsetto note, showing off his vocal talent, while dressed in a golden corset like he's lip-syncing for his life. It also gave Victoria Justice more to do than just feign the damsel in distress act, with her voice on blast and a feather boa Christina Aguilera would be proud of. This group number was fantastic. Also, Laverne orchestrated the whole thing dressed in a night gown with curlers on like the Queen she is.
"Time Warp" (4.5/5): Reeve Carney was a vision as Riff Raff, and committed to going bats--t crazy. It’s hard to top, or even come close, to the most iconic song of this whole show, but this "Time Warp" was done quite well. "Dip It Low" chanteuse Christina Milian came in on the second verse and did really great, despite the fact that she clearly couldn’t pick an accent for Magenta. (She winds up sounding like a drunken Scary Spice.) Annaleigh Ashford shined as Columbia in her limited screen time. It’s a great homage to the film: the choreography was on point, fun and energetic . At a quarter of the way through the show, it was the standout number.
"Touch Me" (4.5/5): The foreplay scene is so campy, and it was hard to see this as nothing but a ploy to raise the viewer count with some softcore porn, what with the ass-slapping and boobie-oogling: Fox’s way of maintaining the edge this production is supposed to consistently have. Justice has a stronger voice than Sarandon did in the original, so it's a welcome change to hear her more enthusiastic, less flippantly airy take than the original. It still packs the same sense of sexual release and hidden desire, due in part to Justice’s rolling around in white lingerie on a mattress, a la Britney in her "My Prerogative" music video. As a whole though, it's PG compared to the original version, which seems to be a running theme in this Fox production. It’s a shame to see so many of the qualities that made Rocky Horror a cult classic fall to the wayside in this primetime adaptation.
"Sweet Transvestite" (4/5): Laverne — no, Slayverne Cox descends from the Heavens in the most Gaga-esque costume Gaga's never worn: a "Bad Romance"-esque red glitter number with a headpiece the size of a sun. It’s so gay and fabulous, I’m sure some little gayby got his wings while watching. Cox is having an absolute ball with the part and it shines through with every eyebrow raise and sinful smirk. It’s almost enough to make you forgot that Cox is not exactly a singer. While the original's Tim Curry wasn't exactly a pop star, it’s hard not to focus in on Cox’s adequate, yet lacking vocals. But it's evident Cox practiced this part over and over again in front of the mirror, hairbrush in hand, since childhood. She's an inspired choice for the role, and it oozed good, campy fun.
"Science Fiction Double Feature" (3.5/5): This song is missing one of the most iconic aspects of Rocky Horror: the red lips. The lips don’t sing the song to you like they do in the original, but rather a movie usher (Ivy Levan) sings the opening number — a nod to the midnight specials of Rocky Horror. Vocally, it's good, but the visual aspect doesn’t pack the same punch or spine-tingling intrigue as the original. It comes across a little overdone, like a 1920s sex kitten singing at a burlesque show, and starts the show off on the wrong foot, like popcorn stuck under your shoe.
"There’s a Light" (3.5/5): Reeve Carney has Broadway chops, and fully embraced his part as Riff Raff as he's first introduced to the audience. He stood out, making this whole number a little bit better. The Brad and Janet harmonies were also quite well done. The biggest issue with this number is the fact that this isn’t a live production, but they involve a pseudo-audience, which does nothing except remind you that this is a subdued TV reimagining of a timeless, boundary-pushing stage production. Seriously, the audience takes you completely out of the moment.
"Dammit, Janet" (3/5): So cheesy and oddly adorable. Brad showcased his great pipes — especially that vibrato — and Victoria Justice used her criminally underrated Victorious chops just as well, mixing it with a hint of naïveté in tribute to the role Susan Sarandon originated. The only issue is they spend half the song playing ring-around-the-rosie around a tree. While it should come off as endearing, you start to wonder: with a whole church and a cemetery at their dancing disposal, why is the production in this scene is so minimal?
"Planet Schmanet Janet" (3/5): The interplay between Justice and Cox makes this one a fun one to watch, especially with all the changing scenery. Cox's voice sounded the best in this song, and she commanded attention in a simple black leather number. (Also, maybe I forgot, but I swear to God all Janet does is scream throughout this entire show, and it needs to stop.)
"Wild and Untamed Thing" (2.5/5): Cox brought out her best Beyoncé/Tina Turner act, as she shimmied and shook in a gold onesie across the stage. Seeing Cox light up the stage with her utter love for this part was the best part of the show; the joy was everywhere on her face. The number also featured Magenta and Riff Raff in what can only be described as metallic silver versions of Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson’s outfits from the "Scream" video — as if they are part of a space-age punk rock band.
"Sword of Damocles" (2/5): HE ISN'T WEARING THE GOLD SPEEDO? WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING A ROCKY WITH NICE BLONDE HAIR AND A SICKENING BODY, BUT NO SKIMPY UNDERWEAR? Nair doesn’t play Rocky as dumb as he should be for an undead hunk: it was more of a frenzied performance, and his face looked like he has to pee throughout.
"Eddie" (2/5): This song indicates the shift in the musical, as everyone only remembers the first half of the show. It’s a nice little group number that lets you focus on the ensemble without the frantic camerawork and dancing, but a forgettable number. It’s only worth noting that "Eddie" gives Columbia another moment to shine, donning plaid-lip pajamas and a Mickey hat, as she slays every ounce of screen time.
"Fanfare/Don’t Dream It, Be It" (2/5): This is the closest thing the show has to a ballad, and it accentuated Cox’s lack of vocal prowess. It ends in a beautifully shot synchronized pool foreplay scene. But the ballad is a repetitive snooze, though it does feature a VERY homoerotic almost-kiss between Brad and Rocky, which is the gayest thing Fox has done since Kurt and Blaine kissed on Glee.
"I Can Make You A Man" (1.5/5): Slayverne was a delight, donning a chic lab coat with the most fluorescent pink rubber gloves known to man. It was fun to watch, if so short you kind of don’t care. Literally — it's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it song.
"I’m Going Home" (1.5/5): Another solo moment for Cox on the stage. Reminiscent of Uzo Adubo’s performance from The Wiz last year, Cox commands a single spotlight, hovering above the stage in a shimmery gold ensemble. It’s a nice attempt at a closing number for Cox, but it is just another song destined for the trash bin: boring and forgettable.