October 19, 2009

I Popped My Rocky Horror Cherry

So, this weekend we went down to Tucson for my littlest sister's Family Weekend at the University of Arizona (BEAR DOWN). In putting the final plans together earlier in the week, I found out that my sister would get extra credit in her media arts class if she went to see the Midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Somehow, she forgot who I was for a moment, and was surprised by how excited I was to go. Not just go.... go in full costume. I'm a big drama geek- expect nothing less. The next couple days, we researched characters, got costumes together, and prepared ourselves for the fun. Everyone who had been to a shadow cast Rocky performance before told me it was awesome. For those that might be unfamiliar, let me take a step back. A shadow cast is when they play the film on the big screen, and then actors act it out with props and costumes on a stage in front of the screen. Over the past 30+ years, casts across the country have been putting together these shows for Rocky Horror, with the same fun interactive scenes played out: Throw rice at the wedding! Call Brad an asshole! Jump up and dance along! etc, etc. We looked up all these gags, and got ready for the participation.

On Saturday night, we spent three hours getting ready while watching the movie. We were excited to see other costumed attendees when we got to the movie theater. Marked with our "V" to signify that this was our first time (virgins), we headed into the theater. There was a little game before, an "initiation" of sorts to get the "virgins" good and prepared. After that, the movie was set to begin... I waited for instructions... maybe what to do during the movie... nothing. I figured we were good to have done our research, and all would just come to us as the movie was going on. I was completely wrong.

Before I discuss the negative aspects of the show, I will give the highlights. Magenta, Trixie/Columbia, Brad and Eddie: thank you for putting forth effort in both your costumes and performances. Most often, shadow cast members are responsible for their own costuming, and you all made every attention to detail imaginable. You knew the show, and your cues and you frequently helped others that had not done the same to prepare. Kudos to you, and you can ignore the rest of this post, because you are not included in it.

Alright- now for the constructive criticism. I have been to a shadow cast show before. I saw Repo! shadow cast performance for the film's director and co-writer/actor at Chandler Cinemas before it closed. :( The actors and crew really put on a great show. The audience was engaged and excited. Knowing a few of the actors involved, I know that the cast worked hard at their weekly rehearsals. I cannot say the same for this cast.

Most of the cast (minus the previously noted) seemed distracted and unsure of their cues. Their lines were shaky, and their movements hesitant. Costumes left a lot to be desired. I know that multiple costume changes get expensive. But if the four of us were able to get something together in just 4 days- I would expect someone interested enough in joining the CAST would make more effort. Tucson has some of the best thrift stores I have ever seen, and there are PLENTY of websites that help with costume tips and tricks. This was my favorite. I am not going to call out the other cast members individually, but I will say this: there is a difference between looking creepy/disconnected, and giving an apathetic performance, and, if you are going to look like a deer in headlights, try not to get high before the performance. Also- it is helpful if you give the same level of performance all throughout. If YOU'RE bored- imagine how we felt.

In preparing for the show, I was excited for the "audience interaction" with the props and yelling. NONE of it happened. We had rice in our bags for the wedding scene... nothing. We had water guns prepared for the rain scene... nothing. We were able to do the time warp....So, there's that. There was some yelling from the crowd. One guy- obviously assigned by the cast- was the ring leader. He seemed to be going through the motions, and was giving his canned speech with his cues, seeming almost bothered to do so. Another guy, a "friend if the cast" decided to help by yelling half of the same lines just about two beats behind the other guy. There wasn't a chance we were going to hear what was going on and understand it. Half the time, the cast seemed to feel overshadowed by them, and watched them instead of performing. And, coming from someone who swears like a fucking sailor... let me tell you this: using the word "fuck" multiple times in every sentence doesn't make you edgy... it makes you crude. There are plenty more jokes to be made, you don't have to hang out in the gutter. Yeah, there's a lot of sex in the movie. Yeah, there are gay people. Yes, gay guys fuck each other in the ass. I GET IT. Did you hear audience 's laughter towards the end? No? Nothing? Yeah, it's because they had become totally disengaged. We ended up leaving just before the show ended, as we had gotten totally irritated by the entire production.

I get that you all have a bunch of fun together, hanging out, "practicing" etc. But, at some point, you have to realize that there are other people in the audience that paid to see a show, not two hours of your inside jokes. I have wanted to see a Rocky Horror Shadow Cast ever since I knew it existed. I was so looking forward to it, and told everyone I knew that I was going. When it was a disappointment, I was really sad. I WANTED it to be great. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

I hope that with this post, I can prevent someone else from having a bad Rocky experience. I hope that the cast and crew can realize that people do want to see a good show, and I hope that this motivates them to get it together.

I want to see a real shadow cast production. Has anyone seen it now that it has moved from Chandler Cinemas to the theater on Mill Ave? I want to sew up my Rocky Horror hymen and get it popped for real.

For those that want to see, here is me:

I made the sequined glove in the backseat while we drove from Phx to Tucson.
Also- I decided I wasn't ready to wear just my underwear in public.