Published: 10:39, 22 September 2019
| Updated: 16:11, 24 September 2019
It's more than 40 years since the Rocky Horror Show first played to an audience of just 63 at the Royal Court's Theatre Upstairs.
But today its cult popularity is enduring, and it plays to packed - and often costumed - audiences across the world, including Dartford's Orchard Theatre this week.
After being transformed into the Rocky Horror Picture Show on film in 1975 and taking more than $135 million at the box office, it has full-on cult following, showing in more than 30 countries and translated into more than 20 languages.
Writer Richard O'Brien has never stopped being grateful. "I hope what I’ve done professionally on stage has entertained and made people feel a little bit better when they leave the theatre. I’m just so grateful that I’ve been part of something that has so uniquely left its mark.
"I remember a director once told me, ‘There’s only one thing you should do in your life, Richard, and that’s realise your dreams. A lot of people will try and stop you achieving those dreams but the only real person who can stop you is yourself.’ I was young and he was old and it was the first time a grown-up had ever said anything so joyous to me, so wonderfully liberating. Everybody else said, ‘Be careful, get a proper job.' As it says in the show, “Don’t dream it, be it.”"
He's also happy to say it is entertainment, without airs and graces. "It’s not rocket science as far as narrative is concerned. It is a fairytale - we even like the nasty characters, we love the Cruella De Vil kind of character, Frank N Furter. The fact that it is such light-hearted naughtiness, combined with root fairy tales has a lot to do with its longevity."
So what advice has he for first timer viewers? "Just come with an open heart and a good will or not at all. I always worry that maybe the fans might steal the evening. I don't ever want the show to be just a few people having fun and the rest of the audience thinking that they've arrived at a party that they weren't invited to, so that's important."
The 2019 tour features Strictly star Joanne Clifton, donning her corset and fishnets as she extends her role in the musical extravaganza for a further six months.
James Darch joins her as squeaky clean college kid duo Brad, while Stephen Webb continues to delight as Frank N Furter, and Heartbeat star Philip Franks takes on the role of the Narrator.
He said: “I can absolutely guarantee you will come out of The Rocky Horror Show feeling 100 times better than when you went in. The dancing and singing is fabulous and there is such a goodwill about the show. It’s a lot of fun to perform.”
The Rocky Horror Show is at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford from Monday, September 23 to Saturday, September 28. Book at orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 01322 220000.