The Rocky Horror Show creator says ‘nobody’ thought the show would become a hit

The writer and creator of The Rocky Horror Show musical has said he initially thought the story was “a little bit of fun” and did not expect it to be a hit.

Richard O’Brien, 79, wrote the musical stage show The Rocky Horror Show in 1973, which was later adapted for the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, starring a young Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry.

He co-wrote the screenplay for the film and also starred on the big screen as Riff Raff.

The Rocky Horror Show
Actor and presenter Ore Oduba (Shaun Webb/PA)

A Halloween performance of the musical will be broadcast live from Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre in London’s West End, which stars television presenter Ore Oduba, and played in cinemas across the country on Thursday.

O’Brien told the PA news agency that “nobody imagined that this was going to be a hit” when it was created.

“No one had expectations for it.

“All it was was a little bit of fun,” he said.

“And that fun has just continued for nearly 50 years now.”

He said the story has “a childish innocence” and “naughtiness” about it.

“It isn’t dirty and it’s very strange how that works,” he added.

Terrence Higgins Trust’s Lighthouse Gala Auction – London
Richard O’Brien (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The show, which premiered at the Royal Court Theatre on June 19 1973, tells the story of Brad and Janet who seek refuge in a castle filled with rock ‘n’ roll characters such as Frank ‘n’ Furter.

O’Brien described the film adaptation of the musical as “lovely to have made… because we were all allowed to play our parts”.

“And that was, generally when you sell the stage rights to a film company like Fox in those days, you know, they generally start to, teams of people start to reimagine things with other actors and all the rest of it, you know, because that’s their money now.”

He added: “But the stage show is wonderful because it’s a party every night and it starts before they go to see the show actually, because people get thinking about it and we get a lot of people going into the theatre that aren’t theatre goers.

“People who work in offices, or well they did before Covid… they would go as a group and just have a night of fun.”

The Halloween performance of Rocky Horror Show screens live in cinemas on Thursday.