By RYAN MARR
Back by popular demand, The Rocky Horror Picture Show returned to Mary Washington’s campus last Wednesday, March 19th for another evening of wild debauchery and gender-shattering attire.
The free performance was held in the Great Hall for a large crowd of enthusiastic, under-dressed students in drag and face paint. Not an event for the faint of heart, Rocky Horror can be a shocking experience for the uninitiated, or the “virgins,” a term coined by veterans of the show.
Forrest Marquisee, the event’s sound engineer, was mildly aware of what the event entailed but wasn’t entirely prepared for the full experience.
“I’m part of the sound crew so I thought I would be detached from the show. I was trying to watch the movie, but I could barely hear it over all the shouting.”
The Rocky Horror experience involves much more than merely watching the movie, a practice referred to by one cast member as “cheap masturbation.”
However, the audience contained more than a few Rocky Horror fanatics who had participated enough times to keep up this “shouting,” a witty repartee coinciding with events happening in the movie.
The shouted dialogue consists of classic audience responses, like yelling “asshole” and “slut” whenever Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon’s characters appear on screen and grows with every performance as new lines are adlibbed at each show.
The performance here on campus had a few unique adlibs—one particularly memorable shout came from an unidentifiable audience member as the movie cut to an image of a room filled with only empty chairs.
“Show me a room full of people that think Frawley is innocent!” the person yelled.
Another audience member, Shane Lynch, had seen the movie only a few times yet still managed to spit out responses throughout the entire movie, even adding of a few of his own more relevant jabs.
“Show us Heath Ledger,” he shouted at one point. Right on cue a skeleton fell out of a coffin accompanied immediately by loud booing from more than a few girls in the audience.
But The Rocky Horror Picture Show is about more than just audience participation. Its strength may lie instead with the passion of its actors who dawn costumes and reenact the movie onstage in front of the screen.
“The actors were amazing, they did a really good job for a place that doesn’t put it on a whole lot,” said Stanley Greidinger, who played the part of Rocky. Greidinger is no stranger to the show either; he lives near George Mason University where he has participated in Rocky Horror a number of times.
Ben Brishcar, or Dr. Frank-N-Furter, had the courage to wear his costume around campus the entire day of the show. He also knew most of his character’s lines by heart, having watched the movie at least 10 times in the three weeks leading up to the performance.
They had to turn away 150 people and even performed an impromptu second show using audience members to replace worn-out actors.
The cast practiced more for this show and were slightly disappointed that the roughly 500 seats they had set up were not entirely filled.
However, their efforts paid off anyways as audience members raved about the performance.
Stephanie Jones, a Rocky Horror “virgin,” couldn’t wait to see it again and plans to try out for an acting part next time around.
Thalia Halpert Rodis, another “virgin” also enjoyed the show. She had heard about The Rocky Horror Picture Show from her roommate, whose father had recommended they see it, having enjoyed it during his college days.
This longevity is a highlight of the show. Rocky Horror has been continuously evolving since it first began running as a midnight movie in 1976 and audience members started dressing up and yelling back at the screen.
Attending one of these live performances is a chance to become a part of that experience, a joke that has been refined for more than three decades and shows no signs of losing its gender-bending edge.