“I don’t think that anyone really fully understands “Rocky Horror,” but I think what it is, is home for people… it’s a place where they belong,” enthusiastic freshman Fallon Billy expresses.
Billy, the first-ever female to take on the role of Brad, captures the essence of the 1975 cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” in just a few words. The Montclair State University Players hope to provide that place this Halloween.
Players, a programming board of the Student Government Association (SGA), are working their magic yet again to put on their 48th annual shadow-cast production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” with an “old Hollywood” flair. Dazzling and campy, the costuming pays homage to various old Hollywood stars, with the ensemble mimicking paparazzi.
The timeless film follows two naive sweethearts, Brad and Janet, who come across the promiscuous Dr. Frank-N-Furter when their car gets a flat tire. As the story progresses, the lovers’ innocence dissipates, as they enter a world of sexual deviance and free expression. More untamed characters are introduced, notably Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s latest creation: Rocky. This seductive, dance-heavy motion picture will be projected as a live backdrop during the performance, as the cast lip-syncs to the original songs.
Co-director and choreographer, Griffin Gartlgruber, hints at potential surprises this production has in store, “Don’t see Rocky unless you’re ready to expect the unexpected; it’s definitely an experience you’re not gonna get anywhere else even seeing other shadow casts of the same movie.”
Gartlgruber emphasizes the importance of originality when taking on a classic such as Rocky Horror. Producing Players’ 48th production of Rocky might seem daunting, but directors Gartlgruber and Gabe Michelson have taken on the challenge with ease.
“We’ve tried a lot to make this different from the other Rockies because this is an annual thing so there’s always an urge to put your own stamp on it.”
Kicking off with a pre-show dance to one of Lady Gaga’s greatest hits, Players continue to think outside the box and provide the audience with an inimitable experience. Driven by audience engagement, the cast strongly encourages the crowd to join the story and make it their own. The fourth wall does not exist in this immersive viewing experience. The entire production is simply an invitation to have fun, a reminder to be yourself, and an excuse to let loose.
“Dress up, have fun, do the callouts, and participate, because that will only enhance your experience,” Courtney Mincolelli said with a passionate smile. The returning junior, cast as Janet, revels in the wonder that is Players.
Beginning each rehearsal with introductions, boundaries, and bonding games, the camaraderie between the cast and crew is admirable. Leaving all inhibitions at the door, everyone involved is there to have a good time. In order to execute a show as lively as “Rocky Horror,” that is essential.
When asked to deliver a message to the cast, Gartlgruber shares, “I’d want them to know how much we appreciate their can-do attitude. They have such a fun spirit, we have a really fun-loving cast.”
With genuine intentions, the 24-person cast adores what they do.
“[Rocky Horror] at its heart [is] just fun and you can’t do that with a cast that’s not there to have fun,” Gartlgruber beams.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” itself is indescribable, but the feeling it ignites in the viewer is what resonates. This immersive performance is intended to evoke thrill in the most unhinged, raunchy manner, inviting everyone watching to be weird, be fun and be you.
The shows will take place in the Student Center ballrooms on Oct. 27 and 28, at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Open to all, admission is free and all donations go directly towards the non-profit organization, Trans Lifeline. Come out to support a great cause and join Players to do the time warp again!