Lip locked: Audiences keep ‘Rocky Horror’ tradition aliveWritten by Amy Biolchini | | ABiolchini@toledofreepress.com
“Rocky Horror Picture Show” enthusiast Crystal Howard said she was hooked after first seeing the film at the age of 14.
“You can go anywhere in the world, and when it comes to Halloween time, you can find a Rocky Horror cast. It’s the one time of year when freaks are allowed to be themselves,” Howard said.
Collingwood Arts Center, 2413 Collingwood Blvd., will host a science fiction double feature of “Repo! The Genetic Opera” at 9:30 p.m. and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at midnight Oct. 30. Both films will be shown with a shadow cast.
In Adrian, the Croswell Opera House, located at 129 E. Maumee St., will offer a live stage version of “Rocky Horror” on Oct. 29, 30 and 31.
Howard, cast manager for the Collingwood Arts Center show, described the “Rocky Horror” experience as “unlike any other.”
“You could sit at home and watch the movie, and that’s wonderful, we highly encourage it. These are low-budget movies we encourage people to watch. You’ve not actually seen it until you’ve experienced it in the theater with the shadow cast — where you’re watching the movie and the shadow cast at the same time. It is an experience unlike any other.”
The shadow cast acts out the movie in front of the screen as it is playing. Actors dress as characters from the movie and typically do not speak the lines. “Repo! The Genetic Opera” has a cast of 43 and “Rocky Horror” has a cast of 25.
“With shadow casting, your voice is not heard. It gives our actors the opportunity to feel more comfortable. It’s a great introduction to being onstage,” Howard said. “A lot of people who join are brand-new at acting. Most of these people have never been on the stage prior to this, and will probably never be onstage after this.”
“Rocky Horror” is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Although it first opened in the U.S. at the former United Artists Theatre in Los Angeles in September 1975, its cult following began after its midnight showing at the Waverly Theatre in New York in April 1976.
“It’s a Halloween tradition. ‘Rocky’ has been a Halloween staple since 1976. It goes with Halloween like Dracula and witches,” Howard said.
The tradition of participation in the movie continues to evolve, as audience members call out responses to certain parts of the movie and make up new comments.
“The audience is what makes both of these movies what they are today. Without the audience, nobody would know them. It’s what is keeping the tradition alive,” Howard said.
Dressing up as characters from “Rocky Horror” or in Halloween costumes is another longstanding tradition that fans have kept alive.
“It’s a big costume party. You don’t have to dress up to get in, but we’re not going to stop you,” Howard said. “We’ve had people come in dressed as characters from the movie. It’s amazing to watch the people coming in and to see the detail that they go through in order to make their costume. As exact to the character as they possibly can — from the rings on their fingers to how many buttons on the front of their suit.”
“Repo! The Genetic Opera” was released in November 2008.” Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, the film is about an organ-financing program similar to a car loan, but with a deadly repossession clause.
“‘Repo! The Genetic Opera’ is very new, it is going to be 2 years old in its current form next month. It’s had the exact same start that ‘Rocky’ did. Low-budget, nobody wanted it, it was a black sheep. The directors and producers of both movies did everything they could do to get a showing,” Howard said.
Doors for “Repo! The Genetic Opera” open at 8 p.m. and the pre-show begins at 9 p.m. The ticket window will be closed from 9:30 p.m. to 11:15 p.m., when it will reopen for sale of “Rocky Horror” tickets. Tickets are $10 per show, and both can be purchased at once.
According to Howard, the pre-show gets the audience ready to participate in the movie.
“It’s a bunch of skits — Anything that ranges from musical numbers to games that we play where we give away prizes. We’ll have a fire eater for the Rocky pre-show as well.”
Jere Righter, artistic director for the Croswell, said Equity actor Eric Parker, who plays Riff Raff, also directs the production.
“The show is very bizarre and strange, and he totally showcases the rock music aspect,” Righter said. “He has a fabulous voice and makes it really fun.”
Righter said that at 9 p.m. Oct. 28, the Croswell will try to break the Guinness World record for “Most people doing the ‘Time Warp’.” For information, call (517) 264-7469 or visit the website www.croswell.org.