Page updated Wednesday, March 28th, 2007
Rocky Horror Locations Bus Tours
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Based on the original London Theatre Tour Bus that has run each spring to autumn for the past five years, The Tour Bus Company has begun their show tours series with our very own Rocky Horror Show.
For those unfamiliar with the London Theatre Tour Bus, it basically offered a tour of over thirty West End theatres, with a little talk as to the history of each as they reached each one. Sort of like the tourist buses that tell visitors to our shores who lived in the Tower of London, etc.
The new tours are going to be based on several high profile shows and will tour the main venues that the show was performed at as well as giving the same kind of history and background to each of the shows.
As well as Rocky there will be tours for several other major productions of the past thirty five years. Each bus will have a distinctive theme to reflect the show in question. You can see from the image we've been sent of the Rocky bus that they are not going too over the top as far as decorating each bus (thanks to Paul at The Tour Bus Company for the piccie). I think it may be so they can easily swap the tours around, we've been told the graphics are done on cel transfers that can be peeled off when required to restore the vehicle to the original state.
The Rocky Tour itself is around four hours in total, starting at Rocky's birthplace at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, going on to the Kings Road, the Comedy Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre and even taking in the Playhouse where the show celebrated it's thirty-third year. It then moves out of town down the M4 to Oakley Court and Bray Studios (original filming location for the Rocky Horror Picture Show) before returning to the Royal Court to drop everyone off.
Each tour will come complete with an illustrated brochure, covering details of each venue visited, as well as text of the commentary. They are still considering whether the person giving out the commentary will be dressed up or not, but the organisers are actively encouraging people to dress up for the tour. I now have a mental image of several confused drivers on the M4!
So you'll want to know what it costs and when it all starts. Well timewarp.org.uk have been given a special discount code to get 33% off the normal price of £9.99 per person, so you can go on the trip for just £6.66 each. Quote TIMEWARPGOTMEONABUS for your discount price. Use the web link below to book, enter the code when you get to the "checkout" section. Sorry but the offer can only be used for advanced booking of tickets, you can still turn up and pay cash (or use your Oyster card) for the trip, but you won't get our discount price. The tours run every Sunday starting early April, through to September, actual departure times to be confirmed at time of writing.
More details of the Rocky Trips and other themed bus tours at www.rockytourbus.co.uk (site still under construction as of March 28th, 2007)
Image used with permission for purpose of this notice.
THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW BUS TOUR
A year after being invited to a rehearsal for the 2006 UK tour of The Rocky Horror Show, I was once again invited to sample the perks that being a long time TimeWarp Fan Club member have to offer, as I joined a select few for the very first Sneak Preview Ride of the new Rocky Horror Show London theatre tour, which is being run by The Tour Bus Company in 2007.
This is such a fantastic idea, and, having already made the pilgrimage down the Kings Road on foot to see the locations of Rocky's original homes in the past, it is something that I have actually dreamed of for several years.
A chilly but fine Spring day in March saw me, and a few other specially invited "tourists", boarding a red London bus with a classic Rocky Horror bloody font logo in white across both sides.
We were told briefly that the content of the tour's actual speech, which will be provided by a real flesh and blood tour guide (possibly in Rocky Horror costume) and not one of those recorded commentaries heard on a lot of London bus tours these days, has not yet been finalised, but we were given a taster of what to expect, and we did have a guide (unfortunately not in costume) to talk us through our sneak preview.
Starting out at the Royal Court Theatre (naturally), Rocky's original 1973 home, the guide gave us a brief history of the theatre itself as well as a brief Richard O'Brien biography and the well known (to most of us) story of our favourite show's origins, which I never tire of hearing again. The general public may not be scrutinising the commentary for factual errors as the die hard Rocky geeks on this ride were, but I personally found the whole thing to be extremely accurate, informal and educational, and I won't pretend that I already knew absolutely everything we were told during the tour.
After the quite extensive Royal Court section, for the first few minutes of which the bus remained stationary, the driver then took us around Sloane Square toward the legendary King's Road, giving us a stunning view of the Royal Court Theatre across the square behind us.
Rocky's first transfer in August 1973 was to the classic cinema, which stood at 148 King's Road and was scheduled for demolition even then. Now the location of a Boots Pharmacy, the site looks rather unremarkable, so the thought of it rocking to the strains of The Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite over thirty years ago, is actually quite bizarre, but the guide continued to provide fascinating anecdotes about Rocky's time at this location (and all the other venues on the tour).
At least the show's third home, further up on the other side of the road, is still a place of entertainment. 279 King's Road, formerly the Essoldo and later the King's Road Theatre, is now a Cineworld cinema. The thought of Rocky Horror successfully settling there for the next six years (as it's subsequent film version was dying at the box office, only to be reborn on the midnight circuit, giving birth to the Rocky cult we know today) is enough to bring a lump to the throat of any true Rocky devotee.
Next stop the Comedy Theatre, where Rocky Horror made its West End debut in 1979 and finally closed on September 13, 1980, having ran for seven years and 2,960 performances in London. The show recently returned to the Comedy Theatre, its original West End home, for a Christmas/New Year season in 2006/07, and the tour's up-to-date commentary certainly makes more of this historic return than the show's own marketing did.
From the Comedy Theatre in Panton Street off Leicester Square, it was a mere stone's throw across Piccadilly Circus to the Piccadilly Theatre, the home of Rocky's successful 1990 West End revival. On the way, the guide filled us in on Rocky's UK rep productions and provincial tours of the 1980s, including the hugely successful Theatre Royal Hanley production which closed in August 1988 after a four year tour. The Piccadilly Theatre gave me many happy Rocky memories in 1990 and 1991, and they all came flooding back.
All of The Rocky Horror Show's other London homes (the Duke of York's, the Victoria Palace, the Queen's Theatre and the Playhouse) were all visited along the way; quite the nostalgia trip for a passionate Rocky fan, especially as I (and many others) saw the show at all of these venues.
All of this would have been more than enough of course, so I actually wasn't expecting the tour to move out of the city and head off to Windsor for a brief stop at Oakley Court and neighbouring Bray Studios, where The Rocky Horror Picture Show was filmed in 1974. We were even given time to stretch our legs and have a stroll around those hallowed grounds before retruning to the Royal Court in London where our journey began.
The guide brought the tour full circle by mentioning the Rocky Horror Tribute Show, the charity gala performance which took place at the Royal Court in May 2006 to celebrate Rocky's rightful place as the People's Choice of favourite Royal Court production.
I have no idea how successful these tours will be for other shows (The Phantom Of The Opera for example has been in the same theatre for its entire twenty-one year run in the West End, hardly enough to justify a Phantom bus tour, and don't get me started on The Mousetrap), but The Rocky Horror Show has a long and varied history in London, and it will certainly be worth taking that step back in time to visit its old haunts when the tours open to the public in early April.
Rob Bagnall (March 2007)
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Monday, April 2nd, 2007
Okay, Rob and I admit it. Sorry to say, there won't be any Rocky Horror Tours starting EARLY APRIL. The offer code may have also been a bit of a clue to the 1st April gag,
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