Rocky Horror: First Timers Guide

It’s just a jump to the left … And then a step to the right … We all know the Time Warp. Even if it’s just from the DJ at the wedding playing this belter of a tune at 11.30pm to get everyone on the dance floor throwing some moves. More than likely after the cha cha slide? If not where have you been?

So you’ve seen the cult classic. Now it’s time to see the actual stage show. So here what lies within …

A first timer’s guide to the Rocky Horror Picture Show

This guide has come about due to my love for the Rocky Horror and the fact that Gina of Culturebean theatre extraordinaire among other things had never seen the stage show. With tickets at the ready for a showing at the Opera House Manchester I knew I had to write an easy to follow guide. As you can imagine with any cult classic there is a lot of overly complicated info out there.

2 female in costume for the rocky horror, one as Janet one as frank n furter outside theatre

Lets start at the very beginning

1975 a young Richard O’Brien wrote the RHPS. A science fiction come horror/comedy come musical, how could you not like the sound of it. (By the way Richard O’Brien was the host of the popular 90’s series from crystal maze fame). Well the Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of my all time favourite musicals. Its outlandish, garish and lots of fun. There is audience participation, dancing and of course fancy dress.

Yet it seems to be mildly terrifying for the first timer! Here are a few steps to ensure an evening of entertainment and will be a little less daunting.

female costume of frank n furter the rocky horror show

What to expect …

Fancy Dress. There is no hard and fast rule but normally over 50% of the audience will be in some sort of costume. This can be from full cosplay to a subtle hint to their favorite character. Think along the lines of men in underwear as Frank ‘n’ Furter and woman equally as flamboyant in a french maid style outfit as Magenta. More or less anything goes. Do not feel like you have to venture out in just your underwear though there are lots of moments from the movie to take from. Or a sparkly hat or feather boa is a strong character reference.

Audience Participation. There is lots of shouting and cheeky comments shouted out at the narrator, in response to some lines. Slut, arse hole and piss off frequently used. You get up and dance to the Time Warp, lots of laughs and singing along is also encouraged. If this is your 1st time seeing the show, be prepared for not to be like your everyday musical. I can not liken it to any other show.   

Props. Now props are something I have never taken or bothered with but know some people do go all out with newspaper to put over your head in one of the first scenes, water pistols smuggled in as well as rice for when brad and janet get married. (Always check with your theatre though as they may be confiscated, bag checks are common and often for rice and confetti alone)

female in costume dressed as Columbia Rocky Horror Picture show

There are lots of guides online for Rocky Horror Virgins and first timers. I have been multiple times and everytime it has been a fantastic show. If you get the chance and my personal favourite is to go on closing night. Closing night is a little more raucous then opening night, and may feel a little more intimidating as a virgin (think louder audiences, more flamboyant fancy dress but just as much fun). But whenever you choose to go and see it, remember not to take yourself too seriously and have give yourself over to absolute pleasure.  

*The Rocky Horror is touring the UK in 2019 and you should see if it’s coming to a theatre near you because honestly you’d be daft to miss it. So if you scrolled this far here are bonus photos from 2006 and 2007. (Some of my first shows. Yes that pearl necklace has stood the test of time, 13 years and counting. Also 16 and 17 year old Michelle poses as awkwardly as 29 year old Michelle)


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