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Rocky Horror touch-a touches campus

Rocky Horror touch-a touches campus



rockyLast Friday’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was a success, bringing fans to Loose Lounge to kick off the semester in style. The 1975 cult classic centers on a couple that stumbles upon the home of the gender-bending Dr. Frank N. Furter and the antics that ensue when he offers them shelter. The production combines a traditional movie-watching experience with a live performance from cast members mimicking the film and encouraging audience participation. Student-led productions of “Rocky Horror” have been around for as long as current Grinnellians can remember.

Director Reba Brooks ’17 estimated the show has been performed here at least since the early 2000s. “It’s been around for a while,” she said.

“Its definitely been here since at least 2008. Its got a really long history here, and then I think it went into a little bit of a decline, and then we tried to bring it back up,” said Austin McKenney ’15, “Rocky Horror” alum and this year’s Brad.

“Rocky” was originally performed in Harris, but scheduling conflicts have since forced the performers to relocated to Loose Lounge every year instead. Despite having to change locations, the turnout was still impressive.

“I think it went really well. [There were] more people than we even expected,” McKenney said. The cast was excited to perform in front of the large crowd after several hours of rehearsal and preparation. Practicing once a week with the film as a guide since last semester, cast members emulated onscreen characters and brought their own interpretations into each show.

“[The cast] loosely shadows what goes on in the movie,” said cast member Holly Barton ’17. She and the rest of the cast had to strike a balance between following their film counterparts and working with each other onstage.

  “We’re performing in front of the screen, and we’re interacting with the dialogue on the screen,” Brooks said.  Bits and pieces of the film are brought together by the cast to create an engaging and unique experience. Cast and audience members alike came to the show with different versions of “Rocky” in mind, whether previous Grinnell performances or more professional ones.

Grinnell’s version is more relaxed than some of the show’s other iterations. Brooks, who has been involved in productions of the show in Minneapolis, said the thing that makes Grinnell’s show great is that everyone is having a good time.

“It’s super fun, super fly and totally crazy,” McKenney said. “This is one of the most enjoyable things I do here [at Grinnell].”

Past experiences aside, the film’s history and a general understanding of its strangeness make it easier for performers and the audience to get involved. Each performance incorporates audience interaction in a series of callbacks, or reoccurring dialogue that is introduced at the beginning of the show. After the first few callbacks, things pick up, and the audience knows what to yell and when to yell it. This changes from cast to cast or performance to performance, making each show a new experience. The disjointedness of the film itself makes the possibilities for performance variation virtually endless. Admittedly, the movie is not always the easiest to mimic.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” McKenney said, describing one of the film’s larger scenes. Still, the cast somehow manages to work things out every year and provide a fresh interpretation of the film.

“We had to be creative in how we were going to set up a stage,” McKenney said.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is known for being one-of-a-kind, and Grinnellians across campus enjoyed the interactive performance. As the film and unique performance continue to gain popularity amongst Grinnellians, Barton hopes that more and more students will get involved in the production.

“I hope that Rocky keeps getting bigger and bigger,” she said.

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