Halloween is over, but if you went to see Center Stage’s production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadow Cast, you are probably still being haunted. The show was a sight I’d never seen before. From the cross-dressing to the singing and screaming, it was horrifying. And that was exactly its purpose.
When audience members arrived to the show at 8 p.m., over twenty were turned away because the show was sold out. Returning at 11 p.m., the line to get in was crowding the halls of the Simmons Center and creating an aura of excitement and anxiety. When I finally got to the ticket booth, one of the girls from Center Stage asked me if I was a Rocky Horror virgin — if I had never seen the show before – so she could write a “V” on my forehead with red lipstick.
I lied. And its a good thing I did.
The Rocky Horror Virgins completed a sacrificial induction. Two cast members selected a few of the virgins to perform on stage. They were forced to choose their favorite cartoon character and demonstrate what they would sound like having sex. At this point in the show I asked myself what in the world I had gotten into, but I braved it out.
The show finally began.
Apparently, a shadow cast production of Rocky Horror means that the cast plays the movie on a large screen and mouths the words while acting out the scenes. The concept was awesome and the Center Stage actors phenomenal. The actors mirrored every scene perfectly and their facial expressions were completely on point, making it feel just like a normal theater production.
Center Stage taught me a very important lesson that night — Rocky Horror is a culture. During the entire show I had no idea what was going on. People in the audience kept saying random comments about the movie and it took me about thirty minutes to realize those people were Center Stage actors. I sat next to a group of girls dressed in corsets and fishnet stockings. They sang all the songs, laughing hysterically at scenes about which my friends and I were totally confused. In time, I realized that Rocky Horror is not just a movie. Like the Hunger Games, Harry Potter or Star Wars, it has cultivated a culture with a fanbase dedicated to their its “fandom.” Center Stage brought that fandom to CofC for a night and judging from the audience’s reaction, it was a success.
The actors proved to be even more in love with the Rocky Horror culture than the audience members. Leon Williams, a sophomore at the College, was double-casted as the criminologist and Dr. Scott. Williams commented on the intense preparations the cast endured in order to live up to the Rocky Horror name and make the fans proud. “We have been doing a few group movie showings,” he said, “as well as viewing the movie on our own to get a real feel for each character’s personality.” Williams and the rest of the cast succeeded in portraying these characters. “We wanted the audience to really feel like they were having a live experience,” he said.
The directors of the show, Matthew Willingham and William Rutkowski, conducted extensive research on the movie and various shadow cast performances in order to perfect Center Stage’s production. Together, the directors tried to adapt the show to be relevant to the college culture and relatable for the audience.“This show has a wide range of humor,” Williams said, “so as an actor I really wanted to make sure the audience enjoyed themselves the entire time.” Much of the humor seen in the show came from the Center Stage members who sat in the audience shouting hilarious lines relevant to college life.
Overall, Center Stage’s Rocky Horror Picture Show was an impressive performance. Though I am still haunted by the memories of what I saw that night in Simmons Center Theatre 220, I applaud Center Stage for its incredible portrayal of the Rocky Horror Picture show and for assembling a community of insane, dedicated fans for one fateful night. It was the perfect way to celebrate Rocky Horror’s fiftieth anniversary and to prepare for a horrifying halloween.