For the third year in a row, West Chester University’s LGBTQA partnered with the Delaware-based Formal Dress Optional to host the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Friday, Oct. 30. During the show, students waded their way past a sea of costumes while the cult classic played on the big screen. Actors performed in front of the movie through re-enactments, embellishments, and comedic commentary.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon began back in 1975 with the famous film’s box office release. This movie was made with a $1.4 million budget and became so popular upon its debut in the box office that it made $139.9 million. Since then, theaters around the world, especially during the Halloween season, host productions to draw in the loyal Rocky fandom.
WCU followed the same formula that a lot of Rocky Horror Productions dictate.
At the door, goodie bags were handed out with various items, such as playing cards, rubber gloves, newspapers, noisemakers, and an instructional list telling the reader what to do with them.
For example, in the film, when one of the main characters, Janet Weiss, shields herself from the rain with newspaper, everyone in the audience took out their newspaper, placed it on their heads, and waited until the scene was done to put it away.
Before the movie started, though, the actors called up all of the “virgins” in the audience. “Virgins” in the Rocky Horror production are defined as people who have never attended a live Rocky Horror Picture show before.
When all of the “virgins” came up to the stage, they went through an initiation of sorts, where they were picked out at random to perform certain tasks in front of the audience.
These tasks ranged from groups competing to wrap their partners in toilet paper the fastest to handing a microphone to a participant and making them imitate a certain character experiencing an orgasm.
After all of the “virgins” are seated, the show began with a lot of laughs.
Cast members not currently on stage insert original, humorous lyrics into songs and make jokes at the expense of the film’s characters and their situations.
On stage, action by action, the actors mimicked what happens on screen, only to fool the audience by sporadically changing things up on stage to add to the hilarity. Around the stage, these performers strut in speedos, high heels, and corsets with unabashed pride, creating an easy atmosphere. This was furthered with the audience gleefully singing and dancing to the film’s more popular tunes like, “Time Warp”, “Sweet Transvestite,” and “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me.”
Deni Tobin, one of West Chester University’s LGBTQA’s executive board members, stated that the club has been in the works of preparing for this event since the summer.
Right up there with the Drag Show the organization hosts at Sykes Student Union in the spring, they felt that the importance of this production and were very happy with how the event turned out this year.
Tobin explained that the movie has withstood the test of time because these productions are “a place where outcasts flock to” and that shouting certain insults at the screen is “a way for everyone to take those insults they’ve been faced with and reclaim them.”
Cast member Shawn Hall agreed with the sentiment that the production is a uniting, bonding experience.
“People love to make fun of it,” said Hall. “It’s not a good film, but it’s a good mix of fun and goofiness, and it brings together a lot of people with this common interest.”
Hall, who has worked with Formal Dress Optional since 2009, said that he loves going to colleges like WCU especially because there is already a network of people here who love the film and don’t have to be prompted to see it. Judging by the full house that turned out to the event, it seems like next year will have the same intrigue, interest, and attendance.
Formal Dress Optional, the company Hall works for, performs the show on a mostly weekly basis.
For Formal Dress Optional’s performance dates, times, and venues, please visit formaldressoptional.org.
If you would like to help this campus’s LGBTQA with the production next year or would like more information about the organization itself, feel free to visit their office in Sykes 233 or follow them on Twitter @wculgbtqa.
Halle Nelson is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in English literature and deaf studies. She can be reached at HN824858@wcupa.edu.