REVIEW: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an internationally appreciated cult classic musical film, often performed around Halloween. The hit movie (and musical) held two performances this past weekend at our very own Michigan Theater. I was lucky enough to catch their annual performance on Saturday at 9:30, and it lived up to every expectation as an absolute riot from start to finish. It’s a lively and goofy movie with notable characters like the innocent Brad and Janet, thoughtless yet sincere Rocky, and the tremendously memorable transvestite, Frank-N-Furter. This performance is absolutely an 18+ experience, with many sexual innuendos, violence, intense language, and adult themes (which is no surprise if you know the show). The film has the longest-running release in film history and was even adapted again into a more modern TV film in 2016 on Fox. Forty-eight years later, the film still plays in theaters all around the country, often with a live amateur ‘shadow cast’ that mimes the actors on the big screen. There were shouts and roars from the costumed audience of classic lines to be accurately called out at certain points in the film. It is not your average ‘night at the movies’ at all…

The film was released in the fall of 1975 in the UK and USA. It was directed by the Australian director Jim Sharman, who was widely known for producing many kinds of experimental theater. He has a decorated list of theatrical directing credentials from across the world, with a few major films that hit the theaters through the 70s. The screenplay was adapted by Sharman and the UK’s own Richard O’Brien based on O’Brien’s original 1973 musical. The musical premiered that year in the UK, including the iconic Tim Curry, who reprised his role as Frank-N-Furter in the 1975 original movie. The first West End cast performance was dubbed a ‘creative and commercial success’. Initial reception to the film, however, was extremely negative, but it later became a hit as a ‘midnight movie’ that aired late into the evenings on television stations, and from there, a quintessential cult classic. 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is understood to have been a great influence on countercultural and sexual liberation in the 1960s and even today. It was one of the first popular musicals that depicted fluid sexuality during a time of generational divisiveness and growing advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights. Today, this continues to be true as queer folks work to create more LGBTQ+ friendly space in the arts, and annual productions of Rocky Horror reinforce the necessary space yearly through this vessel. This precedent is set by the characters in the show: they are not confined by gender, and many different identities of performers take on the ‘shadow cast’ roles, keeping the show undoubtedly fresh. The “look” of each character does stay consistent, their costuming/hair and such, but many things can and have been adapted in various performances. Historically, the costuming of the show affected the development of many punk rock fashion trends, with colored hair, fishnet stockings, and colorfully flamboyant make-up. 

The ‘shadow cast’ of this production did a fantastic job of depicting the drama on screen. A ‘shadow cast’ is not something that is often seen in movie theater settings, so it was a lot of fun to experience. It was difficult to light the actors because the movie playing right behind the stage, so often it was hard to see. However, the energy of the acts was understood from the back of the house, and their exuberant costumes filled the space left by a lack of set. I commend these folks for their accurate and entertaining work as the ‘shadow cast’ of the film, and their commitment to the tradition of Rocky Horror! 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a must-see musical film and a hilariously memorable experience. I sincerely enjoyed the performances from the ‘shadow cast’ and seeing this movie for the first time in theaters. The actors and the crowd were absolute pandemonium, and I enjoyed my time from start to finish. The experience in theaters is a unique one, and I would urge folks interested to make an evening of it and enjoy the show. Rocky Horror is an annual occurrence at the Michigan Theater and sells out nearly every time, so be sure to get your tickets early. It’s a Halloween festivity not to be missed! 



Image from the film, thanks to IMDb.

REVIEW: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Let’s do the time warp again. And let’s do it with a drag moth.

Rocky Horror Picture Show’s cult following came through, as the Leather Medusas performed a sold-out show at the Michigan Theater over the weekend. With many fans dressed in wigs, there was massive excitement and anticipation for the annual Rocky Horror Picture Show. And then, a beautiful Moth emerged onstage and everyone lost it. With sass and pride on full display, the Moth got the show started in style.

As a Rocky Horror Virgin who knew very little about the show going in except for the fact that it was weird, I was a bit unprepared for what the next hour and a half had in store for me. Little will be said about the movie, since the 1975 film has become a cult classic that is either known in its entirety or known with very actual knowledge of the show (the latter of which I happened to fall in before myself). And for the other Rocky Horror Virgins out there, I won’t spoil the very first experience for you, because let me tell you — it is quite the experience indeed.

One of the things that makes the Rocky Horror Picture Show a true experience is the talking back to the screen, which is understandable because some things in that movie just make you want to scream — and with this movie, you actually get to. However, the audience participation was at times rather annoying since it was hard to understand what everyone was shouting, and since I had no idea what was happening to begin with, I wanted to understand what everyone was shouting. Granted, some preparation beforehand could’ve been done on my part to help fully prepare myself for this experience. But I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, so I didn’t know what I had to prepare for. Nonetheless, clever lines were shouted every now and then that made the callbacks bearable. Particularly because Rocky Horror is a known cult classic, all the shouting was part of the experience, so I embraced it through my waves of annoyance.

The Leather Medusas shadow cast put on a phenomenal and amusing show full of hypersexual dancing and well-timed acting that didn’t disappoint as they received a standing ovation at the end. With Demetrius Markel as the muscular Rocky, he showed off his cheerleading skills through impressive moves that got the crowd riled up. The entire cast with wondrous costumes was exceptional in performing this show that requires a lot.

Now that I have lost my Rocky Horror virginity, I await for next year’s show with sweet, sweet antici…pation.

PREVIEW: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Halloween is here, and what better way to celebrate the spooky season than with The Rocky Horror Picture Show? In the 10th hour of the night on October 20th, the Leather Medusas, a group of University of Michigan students, are bringing the cult classic show in the annual Ann Arbor showing. In a sing-along, shout-along, and dance-along fashion, come out to the Michigan Theater to do the Time Warp with the Leather Medusas this year.

REVIEW: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Michigan Theatre.

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.

Introducing the show.

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.

The lips.

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!

Preview: The Rocky Horror Picture Show – it’s astounding, time is fleeting, madness takes its toll


What: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Where: The State Theater

When: Friday 24 and Saturday 25 October 2014 11:59 pm – doors open at 11:15

How Much: $7

An absurd cult classic, ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ is an erotic freak show with alien transvestites, Frankenstein doctors, monstrous creatures and suburban goody-goodies.

A fun production with full on drag pieces and plenty of opportunity for audience participation, ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ traditionally requires costumes and callbacks from its audiences.

The State Theater will provide ‘props’ for the show, $5 a bag. Items forbidden from the screening include but are not limited to: rice, confetti, alcohol, fake blood, toilet paper, outside food and drink, etc.

Come dressed up or face the potential wrath of die-hard fans. If you have never seen this film and/or never been to a showing such as this I highly recommend it. There is no better way to experience Rocky Horror than with a theater of lingerie-clad fans screaming responses and prompts at the screen for 100 minutes.

Let’s do the Time Warp again!