Not with a bang, but a whimper…
I should have known better than to have been too jazzed to see the cast of Glee take on Rocky Horror. Like many, I fell for the promo clips and well-distributed cast photos and falsely assumed that they would really take a…um…bite out of the classic musical. And when the show opened with those lips and almost a full take on “Dammit Janet“, I thought maybe they were going to really pull out the stops this time. It’s not like there is a shortage of great songs in that show – hell, they’re all great.
But sadly, the sappy melodrama that is Mr. Schuester dragged the whole thing down into the mess that is his character’s personal life. I’m not certain what the motivation is behind that character arc, but what was once a sympathetic and likeable character has quickly become a wimp, a loser, and finally, a cad. If they’re trying to tell us that even an adult can suffer like a high school student, stop – we get it. Lately when Jane Lynch isn’t shredding the room with her Sue Sylvester quips, there are only two reasons to watch the show these days, and they’re named Kurt and Brittany. Chris Colfer and Heather Morris never fail to hit it out of the park. More of them, please, before it’s too late.
Frankly, the best moment of the night was having the camera pan past Barry Bostwick and MeatLoaf (for those who don’t know, they played Brad and Eddie in the film). A more courageous show would have left it right there, a perfect sight gag, much like the camera panning by The Three Stooges in fireman gear in It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Instead they tried to milk it in a follow-up scene where they played soulless network execs trying to stir controversy out of the production. Amusing, yes, but an overplayed hand.
Not that the casting matchups were bad. Lea Michele aped Susan Sarandon’s voice (as opposed to her usual Streisand channeling) but was overshadowed by Cory Monteith’s dorky take on Brad (not far from his Finn character). Chord Overstreet (yes, that’s a real name) looks so much like the original Rocky character it’s as if he was hired just for this episode.
In the line of the night, Artie suggests that he plays “the guy in the wheelchair”, and John Stamos even got to wear his Elvis “Comeback Special” catsuit and belt out “Hot Patootie” (in B flat, mind you!). And while Amber Riley (Mercedes) flexed her always-great pipes on “Sweet Transvestite”, the modernization of the song (let alone the neutered lyrics) fell flat.
Overall the ensemble did a nice job on “Time Warp”, with Santana and Brittany frighteningly well cast as Magenta and Columbia, and Kurt finally got to flaunt a little Riff Raff. But did we really need the downright creepy scene between Scheuster and Emma in place of remakes of classic scenes from the film, let alone full versions of the songs? Not only was it completely out of character for Emma to behave as she did, but thanks to that lame subplot we never got to hear “Rose Tint My World” or “Eddie” or “I’m Going Home”. (Remember, the rule is more Kurt and Brittany…)
So a couple of bright spots, but mostly underwhelming. Hey, if they could suck it up and go to the wall for Madonna, they could have paid just as much respect to Rocky Horror. Just sayin’.
Lesson learned again – like most times, stick with the originals. And if you can’t do that…well. it’s midnight somewhere – get thee to a theatre!
The Rocky Horror Show – Original cast soundtrack
Rocky Horror Picture Show – Original film soundtrack