My Biz

Submit content

My Account


Theatre News South Africa

Rock around the clock

Earlier this week, the local staging of The Rocky Horror Show celebrated its 300th performance. Matthew Wild, director of the hit musical, chats about the runaway success.

BizcommunityThe Rocky Horror Show is your first time directing a major musical. What drew you to the show in the first place?

Matthew Wild: Daniel Galloway approached me to direct it, but I wasn't at all sure that I was the right person for the job. I'm not very rock 'n roll at all and the whole Rocky Horror aesthetic is miles away from the clean, graphic approach that has informed a lot of my work. But I'd wanted to take on a musical for a long time and the more I worked on the piece, the more I realised what a genius score it has, and how cleverly it's even constructed for the stage.

And how did you balance the need to stay true to the original while still making the production your own?

This was the single biggest challenge. Penny Simpson (who designed the costumes) and I felt somewhat trapped by the traditional iconography of the Rocky Horror brand for a while - and for every costume element we tried to come up with something that was our own, but that didn't depart too radically from the look that the audience expected. We must have tried 10 different hairstyles for Frank'nFurter before we found one we liked.

So far, more than 85,000 people around the country have seen the show. What do you think makes it so popular?

You could write a book of guesswork on how Rocky Horror turned into the global phenomenon that it now is - and there are so many people in SA who hold this musical very dear to their hearts. Given the in-built popularity of the piece, some producers would be content throwing together a cheap-and-nasty staging, but the Fugard was determined that its production would have high production values and a first-rate cast. I think, above all, that it is the quality of the casting in our production that has kept audiences returning over and over to watch the show multiple times.

And what was it like to see the production nominated for nine prestigious Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards, eventually winning three?

It was a great pleasure to see the production nominated alongside huge-budget imported musicals - and a lovely recognition of the hard work the performers have poured into this show.

Rock around the clock

Are there any dream musicals you'd most like to direct in the future?

I'm really excited that I will get to direct two of my desert island pieces next year: Cabaret and West Side Story. My wish list of operas is much longer than that for musicals, but I'd definitely like to tackle Sweeney Todd and Candide at some stage in the future.

And what other exciting goals or plans do you have lined up for yourself?

I have four big new productions hitting the stage over the next 18 months, so that's keeping me out of trouble for the time being!

The Rocky Horror Show is at Cape Town's Fugard Theatre until Sunday, 2 November and Pieter Toerien's Main Theatre at Montecasino in Joburg from Friday, 14 November to Sunday, 1 February. Book at Computicket.

Bookings are also open for Wild's productions in 2015: Cabaret at the Fugard Theatre from 10 March to 30 April and West Side Story at the Artscape Theatre from 23 July to 23 August.

About Eugene Yiga

Eugene graduated from the University of Cape Town with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano. He then spent over two-and-half years working in branding and communications at two of South Africa's top market research companies. Eugene also spent over three-and-a-half years at an eLearning start-up, all while building his business as an award-winning writer. Visit, follow @eugeneyiga on Twitter, or email moc.agiyenegue@olleh to say, um, hello.
Let's do Biz