BWW Review: ROCKY HORROR SHOW at Hongik University Art Center Grand Theater, 'Don't Dream It, Be It!'

BWW Review: ROCKY HORROR SHOW at Hongik University Art Center Grand Theater, 'Don't Dream It, Be It!'

"Something extraordinary, unique, and just altogether hard to express in one word," this is how I felt after seeing THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. Last year, when this show had its second run after a long 7-year break, it became a huge sensation in the musical industry. It came back this year, early August to start its third run and everything of it is as unique as it can be. This year's performance is special in that they decided to do something that most Korean musical productions hesitate to do.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is a musical written by Richard O'Brien which was later adapted into a film in 1975. Also, in 2016, it was again adapted into a television film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again. Even though it has been more than 40 years since the first performance in West End, it is still a beloved show by so many different people from diverse countries. The show first came to Korea in 2010 and after some modifications; it was performed again in 2017. The 2018 version is very similar to 2017 with a few minor changes.

The most unique characteristic of this show is that audience participation takes a big part. Since this is something that is not frequently done in Korea, it was both exciting and surprising for many audiences. However, the company managed to incorporate it smoothly, so that everybody could enjoy the show to the fullest. Also, it is quite different from the international performances, which gives it a bit of uniqueness.

The first audience participation starts when Brad and Janet leave the car in a rainfall. Phantoms (also known as stormtroopers) roam around the audience seats with portable water tanks. They use an attached sprinkler to spray water to the audience, even including those in balcony seats. Because of this, the production provides a "special" newspaper for audiences to cover their body. This was a phenomenal action because it was really unexpected. However, this is also one reason why the show gained much attention and popularity.

The second audience participation has to do with dancing. The song, "Time Warp" which is a representative number of the musical has an easy to follow dance. One of the characters, Riff Raff comes downstage and tells the audience to stand up and dance to the song. To make sure that the audience knows the dance before the show starts, the Production Company makes sure to release a tutorial dance video beforehand. Also, the video is played on a screen inside the venue and female phantoms stand in an aisle showing how to dance step by step.

There are other various audience participation acts throughout the show. All of them are unique and brilliant in that they are connected with the merchandise that is currently being sold. Also, though there are various scenes where audience members become involved with the show, none of them bother with the overall flow of the show.

For this year's performance, a unique casting was revealed. For the role of Colombia, Jeon Yeji a female actor, who played this role last year, was cast but also Song Yootaek, a male actor was cast too. As it is not common in Korea to see different gender actors cast for the same role, this cast gained much attention. Not only that, another unique point of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is that 20 minutes before the show, male phantom actors roller blade throughout the lobby. They take pictures with the audiences and go around the lobby surprising people. Due to this, even before the show starts, audiences already become a part of the musical.

South Korea is a country where B horror or transvestites is an uncommon topic source dealt in musicals. There is still a big barrier among understanding "transvestites." And for this reason, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is an outstanding show in Korea. It has broken many parts of the wall and has given an opportunity for people to experience a unique show that delivers an important message. I definitely recommend seeing this show at least once.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW ends its run on October 21 at HongIk University Art Center Grand Theater. Tickets start at 66,000 and can be purchased at or at the ticket booth offline. Please check cast prior to buying tickets.

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