Going to a live production of "The Rocky Horror Show" - what should I expect?

As in, not the Picture Show.

A live performance of the stage musical.

They’re doing one in a venerable old theater in downtown Olympia on Halloween night, and when I saw a poster advertising it on the window of a vacant shop at the mall a few days ago, I impulsively whipped out my phone and bought a ticket.

I must admit, I’m a “virgin”. I’ve watched the movie at home many times but have never been to a theatrical screening. There’s a theater in Tacoma that does bi-weekly screenings, but I’ve never gotten around to going largely because it feels so intimidating.

How much is a stage production of it like a screening? I’m of the right generation that my father went to screenings in the early years after the movie’s release and he taught me some of the original audience responses when I was a teenager, and I know some of the modern responses courtesy of the internet. I imagine that in a live setting they’re not gonna be wanting people to throw stuff at the stage and yell at them, but live crowds being what they are I don’t know what to expect.

Anyone ever been to the live show? What’s it like? What am I in for? What have I gotten myself into?

The wikipedia page likely references many things you’re already aware of – throwing toilet paper when Brad says, “Great Scott” or throwing toast, or people in costume. You seem to know this. People can sometimes sneak stuff in and just throw anything – like garbage, and they’re sometimes prevented from throwing anything to the best of the venue’s ability.

There’s something that can happen, that’s not often referenced on internet pages, that you might want to be aware of – sometimes, during Janet’s “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me” song, the audience can break into a grope fest. People in the know tend to form a “conga line” for self preservation of interior members of said conga line. It doesn’t happen everywhere, all the time. And I don’t know how it meshes with modern #MeToo – I haven’t heard about it happening lately.

You just gotta hope the person at the end of the conga line of friends you form has a good sense of humor and good instincts for self-preservation/defense – i.e. a bigger man, dressed as Frank or clothed Brad or Rocky or Eddie, and either too threatening to grope or able to accept it. There’s something of the “genderfuck” meme at work here – it has to be non-heterosexual groping i.e. the girl in the front getting groped by another woman who just walks up to her. And if the middle of said conga line of friends includes un-groped people, people may “help out” from the sidelines.

Like I said, it doesn’t always happen, and may be stopped if possible, especially nowadays. But you can get that its a thing that can’t really be stopped, unlike searching people for contraband. In other words, the more aggressively people are prevented from throwing stuff, the more aggressively they may act out the grope-fest. It may be venue dependent – it may even be planned ahead of time as a side-show, not not actually perpetrated on unwilling people.

Its just a thing I heard of happening and occasionally referenced online that they don’t write on most webpages.

Well the show I saw was many years ago, and in the UK, but I gather the format is basically the same.

  1. Dressing up. Very many people in the audience go in full Rocky Horror outfits – basques, stilettos, wigs, make-up, suspenders - boys and girls alike. You might want to Google for pictures. I would say this is all or nothing - either go as you are or throw yourself into it. I don’t think some red lipstick will cut it.

  2. Audience responses. This is full participation, and most of the audience will know what to do and say. And you won’t but I wouldn’t worry about it. Perhaps learn the song lyrics and dance moves before you go.

  3. People DO throw stuff at the stage. I can’t remember what or when.

  4. I think at one point they might have pulled people onto the stage, but don’t quote me on that.

I don’t remember any groping. Maybe that’s a newer thing (this was about 1990).

The audience participation evolves. I found the “new” responses to be much more vulgar and filled with profanity than in my heyday of seeing the movie. It seemed to uncoordinated so I assume the responses were not just one person’s attempt to shock others.

I often could not hear the cast’s lines. I felt sorry for the cast since they worked hard to produce a play and so much was drowned out by audience yelling.
Of course this maybe a sign of getting old. Rocky Horror today is not your dad’s Rocky Horror.

I am your father. So to speak.

When I would see it in the 80s, the audience participation seemed well learned, and everyone was on the same page. The callbacks we good and on point. And more importantly, they stopped when they should. You could hear the film dialog (except for the Narrator, but that was the point). It was fun.

But nowadays it just seems everyone in the audience wants to be the star. No one wants to remain coordinated any longer. No one wants to learn the “proper” lines.

The DVD was surprisingly poorly done. You’d think that they could make the best audience participation track. They’d had years of material, years of performances to work from. And they could edit! But no! It is such a poor track. I’d heard better AP in small town Wisconsin showings.

I got hit square in the nuts once with a stale piece of toast.

Like freshness of the toast really matters, in that situation? :smiley: (Very fresh toast = hot, somewhat fresh toast = crispy edges… Every kind has its disadvantages :))

Some people pay extra for that.

It might depend on your venue. Our local civic theater (um, theatre) put it on a few years ago. We had only a few people show up in costume, nothing got thrown on the stage, and there was no calling out. I don’t know if every performance of the run was that mild, but given the straight-laced community I would be surprised if anything major happened.

It didn’t help that a big chunk of the seats were from the local Lutheran church ladies society - oh my! Nobody got up and walked out, I’ll give them credit for that.

I’d hate to be an actor in a live performance, not knowing how the audience might react, what might get thrown at me, and how long to hold for lines. On the other hand, ours was way too sedate, and I think it threw the cast off.

I saw it first in 1977. I and my friends went and saw it on campus, for a Halloween double feature, paired with “Phantom of the Paradise”. I’d seen that before, and dragged my friends to it. We had no idea what RHPS was about but thought we’d sit through it to get to see “Phantom”.

There were no costumes or signs or props present yet, but when the lights went down, and the sound came on, a lot of folks started yelling “Lips! Lips!” and we were off down the rabbit hole. The first viewing of many, and in some ways the best, seeing it completely naive.

THAT was this dad’s Rocky Horror. :cool:

Once, preparing for a trip to Paris, I knew I’d be attending a performance. So I packed several copies of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I sold them for quite a lot before the performance.

This was your daddy’s Rocky Horror.

Some years ago there was an onstage live performance at the university in Topeka, Kansas. I attended and it was wonderful. We couldn’t throw stuff because the performers might slip on it, but folks did shout out. The cast didn’t try to replicate the movie costumes, and that was okay.
Dr. Frank-n-furter did wear fishnet stockings but the rest of his outfit was in pastel pink and lavender. He had sparkly green eyeshadow and pale lipstick.

Best part of attending was that we had to cross a picket line of Phelpses from the Westboro Baptist Church to get in.

This performance, upon doing some research, is being put on by a theater company that just started up this year and this is only their second production (their first one was “Legally Blonde: The Musical”), so hopefully they’re not in too deep over their heads.

I don’t know that I’ll be cosplaying as anyone - I could see myself as Brad, or possibly Eddie if I wanted to buy a leather jacket, but I feel like that would imply that I’m more a part of the live scene than I actually am.

A lot of time, the “Audience participation” is paid extras in the audience. Best to not step on their lines. It’s a great show live. Much more energy than the movie. I’ve seen three or four presentations over the years. My first was in Atlanta in 1985 and it starred RuPaul as Riff Raff, in his debut performance. http://fuckyeahrupaulsdragrace.tumblr.com/post/3529519732/80s-rupaul-in-the-rocky-horror-picture-show-in

Quick pic of myself trying out an Eddie look.

Not bad, but I’d suggest an unbroken line across your forehead, punctuated with X’s (indicating stitches).

I’ve been to the movie countless times, but to only one stage performance. It was great, but I don’t think the audience was very familiar with the show–the only people dancing the Time Warp in the aisles were the usherettes and me. Confetti, squirt guns, lighters, toast, and cards were not allowed. Seeing it live was fun, but it just wasn’t the same as the midnight showings of RHPS that I recall.

I went to a stage performance in Renton a year or so ago. There was a lot of verbal response stuff and many audience members were in costume. I don’t remember anyone throwing anything at the stage. Mrs. R was a little taken aback at first, but when I whispered to her that the traditional greeting for Brad was to shout “asshole”, she kinda got into it. :wink:

I saw a live Rocky in DC in 1980–Tim Curry was starring in a traveling Amadeus production across the street, which made it really special–and when an actor forgot his lines, the audience was more than happy to remind him.

The show was tonight, and it was a blast! :slight_smile:

There weren’t that many people in costume. Besides myself, I saw one other Eddie, two Riffraffs, a Frank, a Magenta, a Brad, and five or six Columbias. It being Halloween, there were a lot of people in other costumes as well - there was a couple in front of me dressed as the sailor and nurse from the famous V-Day photo, which was pretty creative. It was GA, so I sat center stage in the fourth row with my mother, who I invited along because she used to see the movie back in the day but hasn’t been since 1981.

Before the show started, the ushers were selling bags of props to throw and marking the virgins with big Vs on their foreheads. (I managed to escape detection.) The actors were all great in their parts, the band was great, the set design was very elaborate and made great use of the theater space - there was a box stage on stage left that was used as the Criminologist’s study, and one on the right that was used as the bedroom for the seduction scene. Characters entered and exited through the crowd at times, with the Transylvanians carrying Frank to the stage on a sedan-chair for the floor show. (Best use of the Transylvanians; during the driving scene, two of them were sitting in front of Brad and Janet and waving their arms up and down to represent the car’s windshield wipers.) Costume design and makeup was great too, with Frank looking exactly like Tim Curry, and the lingerie for the floor show being a perfect match to the movie. Instead of using a chainsaw to cut Eddie up, Frank beat him to death with his own guitar, which was a pretty funny bit.

There was definitely lots of audience participation from the beginning and I got into it pretty easily. The Criminologist was definitely prepared for some of the main callouts and had rejoinders prepared, for example;

“I would like -” “YOU WOULD, WOULDN’T YOU?” “Yes, very much so. …If I may -” “YOU MAY NOT!” “Well, consent is sexy and you already bought a ticket. …To take you on a strange journey.” “HOW STRANGE?” “Considering the current political climate, not that much really.”

I got a few laughs for tossing out lines nobody else did, such as “Buy an umbrella, you cheap bitch!” when Janet covers up with a newspaper, “Dying tickles!” when Riffraff shoots Columbia, and “VD!” when Columbia tells Frank she loved him “and what did I get out of it?” Lots of people were yelling out stuff on the fly and I was laughing my sides off for most of the show. (Best one: a lady yelled “Frank, what’s the secret to a perfect latte?” right before he shouted “Come!” My mother was actually surprised when everybody got up and started doing the Time Warp, since I guess they didn’t do that in her day.

It ran about two hours with an intermission, and after taking their final bow the actors got out in the crowd and did the Time Warp with the audience. I may have to see it again before the run closes this weekend. :slight_smile:

Glad you had a fun time. :slight_smile:

I can only recall seeing one stage production in my salad days, and it didn’t compare to the dozens of times I saw the midnight film shows. It was still fun, but it was long past the earliest screenings when there were no holds barred in the props department.

My favorite “bit” during the film is right after Frank does his big introduction number and is walking through the congratulatory line of well wishers, shaking hands while sipping a cup of water. At the exact moment when he throws the water into the face of the camera, we would have our own cups of water at the ready to toss back into the faces of the poor audience members sitting directly behind us. Always garnered gasps and uncontrollable giggles. (We didn’t fill up our cups much.)

May as well get the most out of that costume. Go do the Time Warp again!