Is ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ 2016 Live?

As everyone gears up for tonight’s airing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it’s worth knowing one key detail: the show isn’t live. That’s right– the many people who have gone to Twitter to express how excited they are for tonight’s live performance are in for a surprise when they see that the reimagining of the cult-classic film will not be performed in real-time.

The phrase “television event” may have led fans to think that like Peter Pan, Grease, and The Wiz, RHPS would air live for viewers at home. In reality, Fox’s “television event” was pre-taped in Toronto, and the cast will be lip-synching to a previously recorded soundtrack, according to Mashable.

Executive producer Lou Adler recently told Mashable that director Kenny Ortega (who directed Hocus Pocus and the High School Musical trilogy) didn’t want the show to be live, “specifically because of the technical considerations”. Adler told the news outlet, “Kenny didn’t want to do it; he said we weren’t gonna do it if they wanted us to do it live. He wanted to make a film, he wanted to be able to go down and come up and show all of it — he’s a choreographer, so he wanted to film it in that way.”

One review from The Ringer reads,

In its rosiest incarnations, live programming is exclusive, marquee, gather-around-your-neighbor’s-television-set-like-it’s-the-damn-moon-landing stuff… Unlike its recent network musical predecessors, Fox’s Rocky Horror isn’t live — and yet it still has all the quirks and drawbacks of a live show.

The article goes on to say that the sets are sparse, and the mansion where most of the drama takes place looks like a high school gym. It also states that it appeared as if there weren’t enough actors in a handful of scenes– most notably, The Time Warp dance. “…the assembled dancers —  who are meant to stand in for an entire intergalactic convention’s worth of hedonistic aliens, whose quantity and fishnets are ostensibly enough to make one of our heroes swoon on the spot —  number somewhere north of ‘several,’ but just barely.”

Fortunately, Laverne Cox has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. David Wiegand, of the San Francisco Chronicle, writes, “Cox is magnificent, displaying a thrillingly pliable voice that easily ascends to the highest female register and then plummets to a basso profundo. She commandingly swans, dances, dips and shimmies around the set in William Ivey Long’s extravagant costumes as if she were born to play the role.”

Whether or not Cox’s performance is strong enough to make up for the show being pre-taped is still up for debate– we’ll just have to wait and see how viewers react.