Burbank – Originally released in 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has become one of the most enduringly popular movie musicals of all time, a staple of late night cinemas worldwide. A celebratory reimagining of the tale of Dr Frank-N-Furter and his friends for Fox Television pairs original star Tim Curry (this time as the narrator) with an otherwise all-new cast in a rousing tribute to its predecessor that also offers plenty of new twists.
The soundtrack for The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again! was mixed on Stage E at Roundabout Entertainment in Burbank (now home to Southlake Audio Services). Veteran Re-Recording Mixers David E. Fluhr CAS and Ben Wilkins worked with Director Kenny Ortega, Picture Editor Don Brochu and Supervising Sound Editor Tom de Gorter of Atomic Sound, and were attended by Producer Lou Adler and soundtrack recordings producer Cisco Adlerto.
So central was the music that blending in dialogue and effects required considerable finesse. “The songs are so big and well known that it was tough to find places to play anything else,” notes Wilkins. “And because the show is so iconic, any missteps would be spotted immediately. Our credo was first to do no harm, do not crowd anything important musically or dramatically.”
The show’s signature song serves as a case in point. “Time Warp has everything,” notes Fluhr. “It starts out with solos and ends with a chorus and every instrument playing. But there is also a lot of choreography and that can’t be silent. Ben did excellent work in feathering Foley dance steps into the song. Otherwise, we would have had people dancing on air.”
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again! was one of the most complex musical productions ever finished at Roundabout. Engineer Teddy Salas modified Stage E’s workflow to address the complexity of the mix, adding extra faders to the Icon D-Control Digital Console to allow Fluhr to work with a large number of music tracks efficiently. Fluhr concludes, “The dialogue and the songs drive this movie. They bring a lot of energy, but they can very easily overwhelm other sound elements. Tom de Gorter and his editorial team from Atomic Sound did a great job in providing us with a whole template of sound effects that relate to things you see, but our job as mixers is to filter through that. Mixing isn’t about playing everything. It’s about making choices and simplifying things so that what you do play actually counts.”