Attendees do the Time Warp again at the Rocky Horror Picture Show


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Rocky actress Olivia Webb (Left) and Director Nel Baehr (Right).

Beau Sansom, Staff Reporter

Storm clouds gathered on the evening of Nov. 4, as freezing rain pounded down upon hundreds of students while they lined up down University Way from McConnell to Shaw-Smyser Hall. When the doors finally opened at 9 p.m. members of the crowd, much like Brad and Janet in the film, were invited inside and up to “the lab” to see what was on “the slab” as they shivered with “antici…pation.”

This year’s Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast performed in front of a packed house, filling nearly every seat in the auditorium. The audience sat and studied the cue sheets provided at the door, telling them when and how they can interact with the show and actors.

Audience interaction was just one aspect of the show’s spectacle. The elaborate costume design was a key factor in making the show pop, according to several cast and crew members. Fourth year Theatre Arts major and costume designer Hope Pringle was in charge of costuming for the production. They said their goal when designing for the show was to pay homage to the source material while keeping the actors comfortable.

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“For the most part I tried to keep pretty faithful,” Pringle said. “It comes down to my budget, my time and my actors. I have to keep in mind my actors’ comfort. I would rather have them on stage feeling confident and comfortable with maybe a little bit less skin showing than the role necessarily calls for.”

According to Pringle and fourth year theatre studies and deaf sign language studies major and Director Nel Baehr, a major theme that was conveyed through costuming was queer joy and history. Pringle worked closely with the actors to get their wardrobe to both fit in with the show and represent them as individuals.

“I’m incorporating some elements of punk culture into it because historically queer and other marginalized folks have been in spaces that aren’t widely accepted by society,” Pringle said. “Most of our cast is part of the LGBTQ community, so I’ve been working with my actors and saying, ‘What do you want to be wearing?’”

A great deal of work went into producing the wardrobe for the show. Pringle said they had spent anywhere from roughly an hour on simple alterations to pieces from previous shows to around 15 hours designing and making more elaborate costumes.

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Costuming was not the only time consuming process for the show, other aspects from the lighting to the choreography also proved to require extensive time commitment. Lighting designer, third year theatre production and design major Sequoia Good spent hours organizing the lighting and creating cue sheets for spot operators. 

“I spent the last two days focusing the lights which took about eight hours,” Good said. “Today and tomorrow I’m going to be patching all the lights and programming the show. I’ll be there for a very long time, maybe until 12:00 a.m. but that’s okay, it’s for Rocky.”

The actors themselves put a large sum of time into getting their choreography and performances sharpened. According to second year musical theatre and sociology major Isaac Olson, the cast spent roughly 70 hours total in rehearsal. 

Annabelle Brasch and Mason Atwood served as co-choreographers for the production and received repeated praise from the cast for their work on the show. Olson went into detail on the commitment and choreographers.

“It’s been a lot,” Olson said. “The cast has had around 70 hours of rehearsal within the span of this month on top of school and work and a social life. The ensemble is killing it this year, we had our choreographers Annabelle Brasch and Mason Atwood choreograph this year and they blew it out of the water.”

Baehr said they did extensive research and note-taking on Rocky to prepare for the show. Baehr said they received great words of praise for the cast and everyone involved in the production. 

“It’s a crazy feat what these people did,” Baehr said. “They picked up those dances like that, it was crazy.”

The cast and crew remarked that they were able to form their own close-knit community through all of the hard work that went into getting Rocky onto the stage. Fourth year history and education major Andy Johnston played Riff Raff in the show, and remarked how special he thought the cast relationship was throughout the show.

“We all had a mutual respect for identity,” Johnston said. “There was no fear of judgment between us and I’m glad I can be someone who the cast feels respects that and helps make everyone feel comfortable and welcome.”

The first 500 guests received goody bags to enhance their engagement with the show. These bags included noise makers, finger lights and several other items that would be used by the audience. 

Throughout the production, the audience was encouraged to engage with the cast and show as much as possible through a set of cues included alongside the various materials found in their goody bags. These cues included instructions on when and what to shout out as a collective during certain moments in the show. 

Some of these callouts included instances of lighthearted and comedic profanity as well as instructions to dance or sing along during certain musical numbers. 

Olson said they were most looking forward to the audience reaction during one of the opening musical numbers called “There is a light” during which the crowd would shine the lights they received .

“While we look into the sea of waving lights of 750 lights that are just on us, that sounds like a childhood dream,” Olson said.

Olson played the role of Brad Majors, the male lead of the production. Olson said that he was very grateful to have the role of Brad alongside their good friend Avery Hilt in the role of leading lady Janet Weiss. Playing the role of Brad came with a few challenges for Olson.

“The biggest challenge was dealing with the confidence,” Olson said. “It’s a character that’s completely new to me and I’m having to learn it all, but then also there’s a scene where Brad and Janet strip down to their underwear. The girl who’s playing Janet is one of my best friends, I don’t know where I’d be without her.”

There were several instances where actors would come down to the front row and get up close and personal with audience members, especially during the reveal of the titular character Rocky, who danced seductively amidst the front row. 

However, audience participation was by no means mandatory. Baehr made it clear in their pre-show announcements that any audience member who was singled out to participate merely had to cross their arms to form an “X” to signal that they did not wish to participate.