2016, freshman year: I, fresh-faced and a virgin to the world of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, emerged from Michigan Theatre as a slightly less virginal, still very impressionable, but a bit more cultured freshman. One year ago, I had the expectation that I was going to see a film with a great story line and amazing musical numbers.
If watching a calm, visually pleasant movie in an idle theatre is your kind of night, maybe a kind of film that’s musically show-stopping and rendered so beautifully that it’ll likely make you shed a tear or two – then I hear Once is a pretty good pick.
Because going to Rocky Horror is much less about seeing a magnificent film then it is going to experience a magnificent movement – a cult classic in all its chaotic vibrancy. This was immediately evident even in the line-up outside of Michigan Theatre as show time approached, with countless people floating by in a variety of costumes: pink wigs, fishnet tights, gold spandex.
2017, I’ve matured; I’m seasoned, having taken The Rocky Oath and done The Time-Warp before.
This year, I went into Rocky Horror not to watch a movie. Instead, I went for the callbacks, the sing-alongs, the endless amount cheering through the night. Perhaps it’s unusual within the realm of theatre-going, but audience interaction with the film is a significant part of the experience. With a repertoire of callbacks timed in sync with the movie script, (someone memorably shouting “Hey, what do you like to eat for breakfast?” just as an on-screen character replied “Come,” for example), each time the experience is new, different depending on the audience itself.
There are more corporal traditions, however, such as standing up and dancing to The Time Warp, snapping rubber gloves as Frank N. Furter does in the laboratory, yelling “Asshole” and “Slut” every time Brad and Janet are uttered. The clever, sometimes absurd traditions are my absolute favourite part of Rocky Horror, bringing a local culture into the theatre.
With a shadow cast this year, another dimension was added to the film. A cast interpreted the plot playing on screen, acting out the script along with the movie. Sometimes the attention shifted off-screen entirely, the crowd cheering as the cast did something particularly funny or racy – even more so than what was happening on film. Something like this bridges the gap between film and audience even more. And unlike a lot of successful movies, Rocky Horror isn’t held in a pristine prestige; it’s steeped in and shaped by the layperson.
A generally good time, and an interesting cultural phenomenon, The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Michigan Theatre isn’t something to be missed. It only gets better year after year of attending, and I’m looking forward to the next Halloween weekend!