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Joe McFadden Shares What To Expect From The Rocky Horror Show at Sunderland Empire

Joe McFadden, The Rocky Horror Show
What's on
December 2023
Reading time 4 Minutes

The Rocky Horror Show has become the longest continuous run of a contemporary musical anywhere in the world

Actor Joe McFadden is starring as the narrator this time around, and before the show heads to Sunderland Empire we caught up with him to find out what to expect.

The Rocky Horror Show is the story of two college kids – Brad and his fiancée Janet. When their car breaks down outside a creepy mansion they meet Dr Frank’n’Furter, and so begins an adventure they’ll never forget. Combining science-fiction, horror, comedy and music, it’s a truly outrageous show. It first showed in 1973 before an audience of just 63 people in the Royal Court’s Theatre Upstairs – but it’s come a long way since then.

Tell us about your background. How did you get into acting?
I fell into television at a very young age. I got into Taggart when I was 12, I was in a soap opera called Take The High Road when I was 15 until I was 21, then I moved to London and started working in theatre. I was in Heartbeat and Holby [City] for quite a long time too.

What have been some of your career highlights?
Doing Holby for four years and doing Heartbeat for a couple of years. I loved being in the West End doing Rent for a year back in the day too – I was in the original cast at The Shaftesbury in London. That was thrilling because I’ve always loved singing but I never thought I was going to make a career of doing it, so that was a really lovely job.

How McFadden

How does it feel to be a part of The Rocky Horror Show?
The Rocky Horror Show is of course a career highlight! I’ve been a fan of the show for decades and especially being in the 50th anniversary production with this cast (who are arguably the best cast that have ever done it). They’ve brought the all-stars together – Kristian [Lavercombe] who’s done it 2,000 times and Hayley [Flaherty] who has been doing it for around 12 years – these guys are the best people for those roles. Every single one of them is so amazing. It’s a real joy for an actor to dip in and out of that and to play in places like Sunderland where the audiences are very much up for having a nice time. It’s lovely that I get to play these very lively places. The cast have told me that the show went down a storm the last time it played in Sunderland!

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What can audiences at Sunderland Empire expect?
Brace yourselves for a really fun, funny, eclectic, bonkers night out. It’s really great because it appeals to people who’ve seen the show countless times and the people who’ve never seen the show – they enjoy it just as much. The audience are so up for it and a lot of them know the show inside out. It’s like you’re part of this iconic phenomenon and the music has never sounded better. It sounds like a rock concert. It’s hilarious. Chris [Luscombe] has done such a good job telling this story in a different, really funny, really entertaining way.

How have you found taking on the role of Narrator?
In the beginning, I have to admit, it was kind of scary! You never really know what the audience are going to do so you’ve sort of got to be prepared for anything. In the beginning that really scared me but, it’s funny, Philip Franks told me that you start really enjoying it after a while because you don’t know what they’re going to do. It’s great when an audience feels like they’re getting something that other audiences aren’t, so if they shout out things you haven’t heard before it’s just as hilarious to me as it is to everyone else. There’s no shame in just laughing along because I am basically the eyes of the audiences, in seeing it at the same time that they are. It makes every show unique.

Can you share what goes on behind the scenes?
Silly things and unique things happen on a nightly basis. Back stage we’re enjoying it just as much as the audience is – but no major mishaps! That cast are prepared for anything.

A favourite role you’ve played?
Prentice McHoan in The Crow Road.

What are you watching right now?
I just started watching Bad Surgeon. It’s good, but it’s really dark. We’re watching The Crown as well.

Your favourite place to visit in the North East?
The Angel of the North!

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Advice for budding actors?
Acting is not for the faint-hearted. You’ve got to have really good resilience, be able to bounce back and be able to take criticism on a regular basis. You have to seriously want to do it. If you really want to do it, go to drama school, join a drama club and do it for the right reasons. If you love doing it, go and do it wherever you can.

What are your plans for 2024?
I’m looking forward to having a good rest! I’ve been pretty much going from job to job this year, doing a lot of touring theatre so I’m looking forward to being at home and putting my feet up for a while!

The Rocky Horror Show plays Sunderland Empire from Monday 8th–Saturday 13th January 2024.

WIN! To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to the opening night of The Rocky Horror Show at Sunderland Empire, simply enter our competition here.

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