By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

‘Rocky Horror’ ramps up production

The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s ensemble practices every Saturday and Sunday from noon to six p.m.

Electricity flowed this past Saturday as the cast and crew of the upcoming shadowcast production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” convened to do their first stumble-through of act one of the show. 

“Rocky Horror” is an annual tradition at CWU, being put on every calendar year. This year, senior film student Gracen Bayer takes the helm as director.

“The first time I saw Rocky was with my mom,” said Bayer. “We had no idea what ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ was about. We went to some theater in Olympia [that] was doing a shadowcast. We were like ‘Oh my gosh this is going to be so fun it’s just like a little movie’ and then everyone got on stage and was stripping and my mom’s jaw was on the floor … I was like ‘This is really weird.’”

Despite an initial bizarre introduction to “Rocky Horror,” Bayer said she has since grown an intense appreciation for it. 

“My perspective has definitely changed and I absolutely love the movie,” said Bayer. “But that first experience was definitely jarring … I’ve watched the movie probably 100 times since. But never again with my Mom.”

One of her first major duties as director was hosting and leading auditions. Bayer cited the challenges of managing that process, stemming from the immense talent she had to deal with. 

“The audition process was crazy, just because we got so many talented people,” Bayer said. “This year was insane, it was just like audition after audition topped the last one … Everyone was so talented.”

Bayer finds herself transitioning from behind the camera to behind the curtain. With a slew of short films to her name, including this year’s “Puddles,” Bayer is no stranger to directing, but directing for the stage is a new endeavor for her. Notably different is the break-neck pace of production. 

“We have such a limited amount of time,” Bayer said. “We do auditions from 12 to six that day, and then right after the last audition we go into the casting room and immediately cast everyone because we don’t have time to wait. We spent hours just debating and going back and forth on people.”

Sophomore Paris Marie Glans, majoring in musical theater, was one of many who went out for auditions and found themselves on the other side of Bayer’s eye. Glans shined light on what the audition process was like. 

“We had to prepare a 90-second dance lip-sync routine, which is strange,” Glans said. “That’s not how most auditions are formatted. But we’re also in a strange situation where we’re a shadowcast and not a normal-cast … We did ‘Into the Woods’ last year and that was a full musical.” 

“Rocky Horror” is unique in being presented as a shadowcast as opposed to a traditional production, where the original film is played behind the actors as they perform on stage. This creates a different experience for everyone involved, notably the actors. 

“Being in a shadowcast requires different skills,” Glans said. “Like accuracy and precision with timing of matching your mouth to the characters on screen. Mirroring what they’re doing but also filing in those gaps of what you can’t see in that moment in the scene. Like if a camera zoomed in on a specific character, then you’re not seeing the ensemble anymore on screen.” 

Senior musical theater student Yuka Kawai has taken on the task of choreography for the show. For her first ever choreography job, Kawai drew from many places for inspiration, including from last year’s show. 

“Last year’s choreographer Annabelle Brash,” Kawai said in regards to her influences. “She did a phenomenal job last year … I also ended up searching a bunch of Beyonce videos actually, especially looking at her backup dancers.”

Kawai said she wanted to maintain the spirit of the original movie when creating the choreography, out of both pure necessity and to honor the audience that knows and loves the show. 

“A lot of the vibes come from the movie itself,” Kawai said. “Numbers like ‘Timewarp’ where the dance moves are literally in the lyrics: ‘It’s just a jump to the left and a step to the right.’ There are some things that I cannot change, especially since Rocky is such an interactive show and the audience knows the choreography.” 

Kawai also wasn’t afraid to deviate from the source material either, especially when she would come up with an idea she decided was too good to pass up. 

“There are some things I strayed away from,” Kawai said. “For example, ‘Touch Me,’ I don’t actually remember how this idea struck me initially, but I took full liberty in saying ‘Yep, I want this number to be a lap dance routine,’ which is not in the movie. But I thought that would be fun.”

This year’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” showcases on Oct. 29th. Kawai is most excited for people, specifically people who have never seen Rocky Horror Picture Show before, to experience the same things that made her fall in love with the show. 

“What made me fall in love with Rocky initially was seeing all the finger lights,” Kawai said. “We give the audience members goodie bags. In them there are finger lights, and we ask the audience to hold them up during ‘There’s a Light,’ and it’s just a wave of colors among the audience swaying side to side while they’re singing. I think that;s the first moment that the audience are going to clutch onto and I’m really excited to see it again this year.”

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