Since its premiere in 1975, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has become a massive cult favorite as it broke ground for LGBTQ+ themes and representation.
With the story of a prudish, newly engaged couple who find themselves spending an unforgettable night in a bizarre mansion, its cult status has lent itself to countless midnight screenings and shadow-casts, theatrical productions where a cast performs while the film plays on a screen behind them.
Shadow-casts have long been a tradition of the Montclair State University Players group. However, they were unable to put on a show last year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and held a socially distanced screening in the Student Center quad instead.
This year, the Players are back on campus and raring to perform.
The cast and crew are all thrilled about this year’s show. Everyone involved is at least somewhat familiar with “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” having either seen the movie or a previous production beforehand.
This year’s show is different from previous performances in a couple of ways. Some cast members have done it before and are now playing different roles.
Amanda Malone, a fifth-year English major, recalled her past experiences acting in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
“I’ve been Janet, I’ve been Rocky, I’ve directed it and now I’m Frank-N-Furter,” Malone said.
COVID-19 guidelines will be met, and the production will be safe, according to senior theatre studies major Haley Karlich, who plays Riff Raff.
“The show has always been done in the Red Hawk Nest,” Karlich said. “This is the first time they’re moving it to a different area, like the [Student Center] ballrooms. Now, we have a stage, it’s no longer a roundabout theater. We’re not able to touch the audience members, which traditionally, you’re able to do, but even the way [the show is] set up is completely different.”
Stage manager Briana Carril, a junior English major, is ecstatic about the show returning.
“It’s so nice and refreshing to be back to some sort of normalcy after being away for so long,” Carril said. “I know a lot of people miss theater. I know I missed it.”
The show is especially unique in its theme.
Director Patrick Blood, a senior English major, explains how the idea to give it an “Alice in Wonderland” theme came to him.
“Me and [two friends] were throwing out ideas for what we would do [if we directed] the show,” Blood said. “I finally came up with ‘Alice In Wonderland,’ and we started talking about that. The story of Rocky is similar to Alice’s. They’re about people thrust into these absolutely insane worlds they have no control over.”
Junior theatre studies major Stone Russell, who plays Rocky, found the incorporation of the theme quite special.
“I’ve never seen anyone else have a theme,” Russell said. “But it’s really cool to have one and see all these Easter eggs we put in.”
Everyone is so glad to be performing again after the pandemic shut down theatrical productions.
Junior theatre studies major Zoe LeRose, who plays Janet, remarked how this was her first in-person performance since quarantine.
“It’s been really fun getting to collaborate with people in an actual space, not just on Zoom,” Zoe LeRose said. “It feels great. Knowing that we’re going to have an audience there watching us is the best part.”
Senior television production major Patrick Farley, who plays Brad, feels those watching will be more excited coming back from the pandemic.
“The crowd is going to be hyped for it and they’re going to get way more into it,” Farley said. “You go almost two years without theater… everybody’s going out to everything. I think we’re going to have a big crowd.”
As for why “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has endured for so long, everyone had their own interpretations.
Skylar LeRose, a junior theatre studies major and production team member, noted its ability to reach people.
“For the time it came out, it was looked down upon for being so sexualized and having these very open characters,” Skylar LeRose said. “Being able to show a sexualized show while also letting people embrace that sexuality in themselves, I feel everyone gets to connect to it.”
Senior theatre studies major Nick Halecki, who plays Columbia, feels a personal connection to the show and believes it is perfect for those who have ever felt outcast.
“Growing up as a gay man, not knowing at age 12 exactly what I was, going to see [‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’] kind of clicked for me,” Halecki said. “I felt home with the show.”
Montclair State Players’ shadow-cast of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” comes to life on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30. There will be two shows on both nights: one at 7 p.m. and one at 11 p.m., recreating the fun and excitement of a late-night screening of the film. The show will be in the Student Center Ballrooms. Tickets are available to purchase for $5 on EventBrite.com on a first-come, first-serve basis.