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Jonathan Adams

With his distinctive voice, Jonathan Adams was much in demand as an actor on radio but he was best known to theatre audiences for his role as the narrator in the original production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show. He was a prominent member of the Actor’s Company and his other notable stage work included Tomfoolery (Criterion, 1980) Master Class (Old Vic, 1984), Metropolis (1989) and Gillian Lynne’s Valentine’s Day (Chichester, 1991).

He also appeared in and wrote several one man shows which were presented in London and on tour including Jonathan Adams’ Happy Hour. Jonathan Adams was born on February 14, 1931 in Northampton. Educated at Northampton Grammar School, he set up his own schoolboy theatre group, Rambler’s Acting Company, in which he played lead roles.

He later studied at Northampton Art School and then the Chelsea School of Art in London. In 1953 he did National Service in the RAF and, as a pacifist, worked as a nursing attendant. While in the RAF he began composing songs and became involved in radio shows.

On being demobbed he worked as an art teacher but in 1959 became a professional actor. He worked as an ASM at the Library Theatre Manchester and then in repertory at Northampton, where he played leading and character roles.

His big break came in 1973 when he was offered the role in the premiere of The Rocky Horror Show. One of the phenomenons of the UK musical theatre in the seventies and eighties, the rock musical originally opened at the Royal Court Theatre.

The abolition of theatrical censorship in Britain five years previously provided the opportunity to present what turned out to be a jumble of fifties and sixties sexual deviation, drug abuse, horror and science fiction movies plus rock and roll music. In 1975 the show was filmed and Adams played the larger role of weird professor Dr Everett Scott. In 1990 he returned as the narrator in a stage revival at the Picadilly Theatre.

He was a longstanding member of the BBC Drama repertory company and on television had roles in series such as Bergerac, Kavanagh QC, The Bill and Yes, Prime Minister.

Adams was also an internationally renowned artist and exhibitions of his work were held at the Barbican Centre, Northampton Museum and Gallery and the Chemsford Arts Festival, where in 1996 he was resident artist. Earlier this year his last exhibition, Jonathan Adams in Wonderland, opened at the Riverside Studios, London.

In 1969 Adams married Julia Vezza. The marriage was dissolved in 1976. He died in London on June 13, 2005 aged 74.

Patrick Newley

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