The Ladeez and Andy and I saw a community theatre production of The Rocky Horror Show last night. It was a great way to prepare for Halloween, and a strange experience for someone who saw it a few times in midnight screenings during the 1980s.
The show was put on by Theatrix which usually does youth theatre but once in a while puts on a show for and by the grown-ups. We had previously seen Steel Magnolias presented by this company. Mostly we wanted to see our friend Sue Shaw who as in the chorus this time.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was popular as a cult movie in the 70s and 80s. It's a musical about a man and a woman who get lost on the way home from a wedding and get stuck in a mysterious castle filled with inhabitants of the planet Transylvania. Their leader is Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite scientist who has just created a creature named Rocky. The movie is really pretty awful, as movies go, but it is a lot of fun because the audience takes over. They dress up as characters in the movie, shout and recite lines at precise moments, engage props including much throwing of various items (water pistols in the rain, rice at a wedding, toast at a formal dinner) singing along to songs, and dancing the Time Warp along with the chorus. You can still see it at midnight screenings once in a while, most recently at the Rio Theatre, I think.
So here we were at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam, ready for some fun. And it was fun, but in a different way from at the movie. When we arrived, chorus members were in the lobby, selling audience participation packs, complete with instructions about how to participate. We got newspaper for the rain scene, rubber gloves and noisemakers for the creation speech, party hats for the dinner scene, glow sticks for "There's a Light," and bells to ring in "Janet Schmanet." The funny part was the tentative way in which audience members got into the action, despite a friendly speech of encouragement at the start of the show, by one of the cast members. We were cautioned, however, not to throw actual toast or rice or use real water pistols for the sake of the theatre building and seats, and told that if we were caught doing this, we'd be thrown on stage.
So the lights went out, and pretty soon it was time to boo the Criminologist. Come on! somebody else here must know what to do. Well, if they did, they didn't feel comfortable to do so, or maybe they were booing in mime, I don't know, so I got it started. BORINNNNGGG! Then I knew they knew it because they joined in. There was even some snoring and hissing, which was good. And that was about as lively as it got from the audience side. The Evergreen has notoriously awful seats and cramped rows, so there was no way we could dance, which was too bad. Dancing in the first act would have been a way to activate the audience. For me, it then became part of the entertainment to watch people around me reacting to the show, trying to decide whether to be quiet or vocal, some even experiencing it as if they were Brad and Janet, lost in the woods and trapped in a strange place with weird people.
The production itself was a lot of fun. Frank-N-Furter was definitely the best in the show, camping it up and staying deliciously in character, even when his mic failed. Riff Raff was also bang on creepy. A funny little bit was Dr. Scott's characterization, definitely a spoof on Vancouver's Mayor Sam Sullivan. I missed getting a program, so I'm not sure of the actor's names besides our friend Sue, who was wickedly silly in the dance scenes. We had a good time remembering the fun times we had at the movie, and admiring the guts it took for a bunch of moms and dads and teacher to perform a show like this for us.
It's on through Saturday night. Try to get a seat by the aisle and dance! That's what the show needs, more people dancing in the aisles. Then it will be just right. And also, boo with gusto at the Criminologist, and continue booing until he stops talking. He likes it, really.
question: have you seen this at the movies?
mompoet - you shall receive it - in abundance