Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

Performing Time, Genre, and Spectatorship

Authored by: Sarah Taylor Ellis

The Routledge Companion to the Contemporary Musical

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138684614
eBook ISBN: 9781315543703
Adobe ISBN:


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When their car breaks down in the woods one stormy night, newly engaged Brad Majors and Janet Weiss experience a moment of hope when they spot a nearby castle with some of its lights on. They approach the Frankenstein place hoping to call a mechanic and resume their steady narrative drive toward marriage. Yet upon entering the castle, Brad and Janet encounter an odd assortment of characters performing a strangely seductive number titled “The Time Warp.” In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, this participatory song and dance spins a once-linear plot into an episodic musical adventure, dominated by the powerhouse performance of sweet transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). In a glittering corset and fishnets, the Transylvanians’ cool and confident leader brings to life a new creation: a muscular man with blonde hair and a tan named Rocky. He bludgeons a wayward rocker Eddie (Meat Loaf) and serves him for dinner. Most importantly, he strips the baffled Brad and Janet down to their underwear and seduces them into increasingly outrageous fantasies, culminating in an orgy of fluid gender and sexual identities. Frank manipulates his guests not only with his natural charm and charisma but also with a sonic transducer, which—crucially—grants him the ability to stop time.

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