For a little over 41 years, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has maintained a steady cult following. Starting back in 1976, fans of the boundary pushing musical began attending midnight showings at the Waverly Theatre in New York City, dressing as the characters and interacting with the shadow cast production. Last Friday night, exactly 41 years, two months and 14 days later, the production once again proved itself to be timeless as College of Charleston students packed the Recital Hall. They even had to turn some hopeful attendees away for lack of seats.
Rocky Horror is one big mash up of bizarre, cringe-worthy and beautiful chaos all wrapped up into one package and delivered in the form of Tim Curry wearing a corset. By description, it sounds like a rather foolish production. Once put up on the big screen, the so-called foolish description is brought to life. Yet, that is exactly what is so enticing about the show. Fans of Rocky Horror live for the moments they can scream insults at the top of their lungs without question. Rocky Horror “virgins,” as they call those who have never attended a production, don’t even know that they live for the moment someone screams at them to stand up and do “The Time Warp” until it happens. Moments like these are what makes Rocky Horror so memorable. It is not the odd plot, it is the part the audience plays in the show.
Center Stage, the student run theatre program here at the College, embraced the Halloween spirit with its very own shadow cast of the production directed by senior William Rutkowski. As the infamous film played in the background, actors and actresses mouthed every line, verse and chorus word-for-word onstage. Each actor brought a personal twist to their character, making the stage more intriguing than the screen. Yet, even those on stage would have to agree that the “wow” factor does not come from them. “The audience was incredible,” Frankie Stofan, who played Magenta, said, “They were so engaged in the show.”
Maybe the production has lived so long because no one show is exactly the same as the last. Each director adds something of their own to the mix. Rutkowski certainly had his own set of surprises intermixed, yet the sense of difference comes from much more than a director’s flare. Perhaps the production has lived so long because not even the cast knows what is going to be thrown or yelled at them as they play their role, it is equally surprising for everyone involved. As an audience member, you are just as much of an intricate part of the production as the actors in the film or onstage.
Friday night in the Recital Hall every person was cast in “Rocky Horror,” and every actor did a flawless job. As Janet and Brad belted out “There’s a Light,” the audience pulled out newspapers and crinkled it, creating the illusion of rain right on cue as a storm brewed in the film. With one swift motion, they then pulled out glow sticks, flashing lightening throughout the room. Every small action came together to create the well-oiled machine that made the show work. “Rocky Horror” proves time and time again to be a timeless tradition. Whether it be College of Charleston’s production or the Broadway midnight showing, whatever happens during the show just seems to work. And whatever happens is what seems to make it memorable and what keeps people going back for more.