Basically, the last 20 or so minutes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (I’ve never clocked it), is all music. There’s “Rose Tint My World,” “Don’t Dream It — Be It,” “I’m Going Home,” and “Superheroes.” But, these musical numbers also work to reveal the true, undressed Dr. Frank-N-Furter, especially with “I’m Going Home.” Tim Curry took us on an emotional journey through these musical numbers in 1975, and the new actor had some pretty tall high heels to fill in FOX's Rocky Horror remake. Fortunately Laverne Cox filled the starring role, and she brought her A-game on Oct. 20.
The song “Don’t Dream It — Be It” first reveals the freedom Dr. Frank-N-Furter has discovered in truly being authentic. The audience feels liberated. Then, “I’m Going Home,” follows and proves what makes the character dynamic and the audience empathizes with the murderous Dr. Frank-N-Furter. This song makes sure we’re all on Frank-N-Furter’s side before the doctor's death.
With such a significant musical number that is so associated with Tim Curry, decades of Rocky Horror fans may have been wondering how Laverne Cox’s performance would compare. FOX’s modern take on Rocky Horror differed the most in the finale. While some of this was a new style and new vision, it was also due to the constraints of a broadcast television primetime slot. “Don’t Dream It — Be It” was of course more tame than in the 1975 film. Breasts were covered and Frank-N-Furter’s corset was traded in for a polished Esther Williams bathing beauty look. But, while the scene was toned down, it wasn’t watered down.
Through the finale, Cox’s style for the character really shined through. Cox’s Frank-N-Furter is not Tim Curry’s. Cox’s Frank-N-Furter is more elegant — she looks like a glamorous vintage Hollywood leading lady. The number was always supposed to nod to Hollywood past after all, with the theatrically lifted curtain, “Radio Picture” set, and Fay Wray mention. But, this theme really shines through in the 2016 finale set.
When thinking about the lyrics to “Don’t Dream It – Be It,” the finale’s evolution speaks to the power the LGBT voice now has in primetime. The lyrics are:
“Whatever happened to Fay Wray?
That delicate satin draped frame
As it clung to her thigh, how I started to cry
Cause I wanted to be dressed just the same ..."
By having a primetime, non-corset version of this message, it can be reached by more people. And, a mainstream-disseminated message of being yourself is so important. Over the last 40 years, Rocky Horror has helped so many people discover that, and find a community.
While Curry’s, “I’m Going Home” shows his range and is pretty incomparable, Cox holds her own. Her Frank-N-Furter maintains grace and confidence, while still showing desire for comfort, home. Frank-N-Furter’s finale song, though executed differently, still shows another side to the character.
And, Frank-N-Furter’s death scene is quicker, TBH drawn out death scenes are annoying (think Austin Powers), so I was on board with this change. And, there is a fun Easter Egg with Rocky and Frank-N-Furter’s death, as they die touching fingers in The Creation of Adam pose.
While Cox's performance is not Curry's, that's OK. Her performance is bringing Rocky Horror to new audiences, while keeping the integrity of the story intact in primetime.
Images: Steve Wilkie/FOX; Giphy