The Rocky Horror Picture Show comes to Southwestern University on October 4, bringing the 1975 cult classic and its unique charm to our own campus.This classic is critically-acclaimed, though to some, an acquired taste. Characters such as the young couple of Brad and Janet, or the unforgettable “sweet transvestite” Frank-N-Furter, originally depicted by Tim Curry, are as loveable as the performance itself. Its one-of-a-kind culture comes to the Southwestern campus, and will be accompanied by a shadow cast reenacting scenes as they play out on the screen complete with unabashed call-and-response riffing from the audience themselves. Feel free to even dress up as well!
On September 4, I had the pleasure of sitting in on the audition process, where our own SU students tried out for the chance to shadow the film’s characters during the many iconic musical numbers. Getting to watch students audition for the many characters with singing-roles, allowed a fun sneak peek into the traditions of Rocky Horror lifestyle, speaking as someone who at the time had not yet seen the whole film. Auditionees presented what character and/or song they were aiming to play, and then proceeded to act, dance, and lip-sync along. Not only was there little care among the judges over how much or how little an auditionee physically resembled the original actor, but gender also seemed irrelevant when it came to determining the right actor for the right role. Women were equally welcome to show off their best Frank-N-Furter strut and swagger as any male auditionee, just as they too could audition for Janet. The inclusiveness during the audition process truly spoke to the ideas sparked in the show itself as well as the feeling of acceptance that fans attach to the film and its rituals.
About a week after the auditioning session, my colleague, Leah Mock, and I had the chance to interview Aransas Haley, the director of our Rocky Horror event. Aransas explained that University Programing Council and Student Foundation, in collaboration with The Mask and Wig Club, Pirates for Pride, and Art Association, served as the main source of funding and resources for this operation. UPC also were responsible for appointing Aransas as director right as the school’s idea to hold this whole shabang was approved. When we asked her how she would give the synopsis on the film for those who have never seen it, but are curious, she emphasized the film’s nature as an icon of queer culture, with overarching themes of “sexual transformation.” Celebrating Rocky Horror is as much about celebrating self-discovery and self-expression as it is about riffing on a low-budget 70’s film. Our interview was wrapped up by asking Aransas what sort of message she wanted to spread to SU through this production. She decisively told us that “It’s okay to push boundaries and be yourself…We’ve got finite time on this earth, so just unleash your inner Frank.”
For those interested in their first Rocky Horror Picture Show experience, or veterans looking to experience it all again amongst other students, the production takes place on October 4 at 9:00 pm on the Academic Lawn, with free admittance thanks to UPC.