News is emerging that actor Tim Curry is recovering from a stroke. Initial reports suggested that he had collapsed yesterday following a massive episode. More recent reports say that, while he collapsed in his LA home yesterday, the stroke occurred last July, and he has been recovering (well) ever since. In any event, I wish him very well.
When I was in High School I went to midnight showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show week after week (after week) at the Coventry Cinema in Cleveland Heights. I think its fair to say that the experience had a profound effect on my adolescence, offering an indelible, albeit particular, affirmation of different ways of being. Watching and eventually joining the participatory irreverence, throwing toast, spritzing rain, singing and dancing along, offered me a kind of community I really needed at the time. Who knew musical theater could be like that?!
Speaking of musical theater, I refuse to apologize for the fact that I love all things Annie. I just do. Ask me about Kristen Vigard’s casting as the original red-mopped orphan and her replacement with Andrea McArdle after previews in Conecticutt. Heck, watch the Julie Stevens documentary, Life After Tomorrow (SJP!) if you want to know more about it. Anyhow, Curry plays Rooster in the 1982 movie version. There’s lots to love about the film, if you’re me, at least, including his sneaky, sinister performance. He’s brilliant. And, thinking back, it’s a little striking how much Carol Burnett, as Miss Hannigam. looks like Frank N. Furter. Huh.
But today I remember Tim Curry as an extraordinary narrator of audiobooks. My introduction to audiobooks came with my very first ALSC evaluation committee experience as a member of Notable Recordings for Children. Back then each of us was assigned a sampling of eligible recordings (cassette tapes!), based on the first letter of the title. I was assigned A-C, and received, relatively early in the year, the first of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, The Bad Beginning. So charming. Curry’s arch, over-the-top narration makes the most of the tongue-in-cheek prose, honoring its playful irony and milking the humor. It’s just a little irresistible.
But my favorite audiobook performance of all time must be his stunning readings of Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy. It was such an interesting choice, casting a man to read these menacing novels about a family of necromancers in a centuries-old battle against conspiring evil, as all of the protagonists are young women. But once you hear Curry’s contemptuous reading of Mogget the familiar, and the positively dripping malevolence of Orannis, the baddest of the many baddies, you know the choice was just perfect. I have listened to all three, in sequence, at least five times, stem to stern, and they never disappoint. I recommend them all the time, and do so again today, to you.
So, here’s wishing Tim Curry a continued speedy recovery, with hopes that he finds his way back to the recording booth soon.