A yearly staple for the Montclair State University Players, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is not your typical live performance. Instead, it’s a choreographed lip-sync to the 1975 film, more commonly known as “shadow-casting.” A staple of midnight moviegoing in the nearly 50 years since its debut, audience members are encouraged to participate with their own interjections, which I learned when half the cast shouted “Eat s**t! And die!” to the rhythm of “Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul” the number sang by Meat Loaf in the film.
The love for the production is absolutely infectious, in no small part thanks to the enthusiastic leadership from director Zoe LeRose, a senior theatre studies major, and assistant director/choreographer Whitney Daniels, a sophomore theatre studies major, who are working together to bring their own spin on Rocky Horror to life in the form of “Wild West Rocky.”
“Every year there’s a different theme,” LeRose said. “I decided I want to see cowboys and saloon girls.”
She promised there will, in fact, be cowboys and saloon girls, as well as a pre-show set to Will Smith’s 1999 hit single “Wild Wild West.”
The titular Rocky Horror, the muscular, hyper-masculine creation of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, will be played by none other than Zoe’s own twin, senior theater studies major Skylar LeRose, who is making her on-stage “Rocky Horror” debut after being the assistant director of the 2021 show.
“I’ve seen [‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’] far too many times [than] I could count, maybe multiple times a day,” Skylar said. “I’m a big fan. I really always wanted to audition, but my freshman year I was really scared. Then [the coronavirus (COVID-19)] happened. Then last year I was on box office so I couldn’t, but I was also more interested in being on the production team for last year. So this year, I knew I really wanted to audition.”
Freshman fear didn’t stop biology major Rylee Allen from auditioning and landing the role of Janet Weiss, the fiancé of Brad Majors who gets swept up in the wild schemes of Dr. Frank-N-Furter after the couple gets a flat tire.
“I think it’s definitely really out of my comfort zone,” Allen said. “Because in my past theatre experience, it’s always been stuff that’s been very innocent and very tame and I really wanted to do something that was not that.”
Returning cast members include sophomore theatre studies major Jenna Wilkinson, playing the role of Magenta, a maid played by Patricia Quinn in the film.
“It’s the best time of the year for me, I adore it,” Wilkinson said.
They also compared their character, Magenta, to themself.
“I just kind of realized she’s just like me,” Wilkinson said. “I’m also a crazy b**ch.”
The creative team hopes to bring to life a fresh, new version of the well-worn production for experienced viewers of “Rocky Horror,” and hopes to have fun terrifying and confusing those who have never seen it, referred to by fans of shadow-cast productions as “virgins.” Those seated in the virgin section have a chance of being pulled into the performance to experience all the oddities of “Rocky Horror” up close and personal.
There will be four performances of “Wild West Rocky,” with the show running at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 29. Tickets are free and typically sell out very quickly, so be sure to lace up your cowboy boots, straighten your 10-gallon hats and make your way to the Student Center Ballrooms for a rootin’, tootin’ good time.