Fully Student-produced Rocky Horror Draws Full House

Photo by Alex Baran

The Ramapo Film Society, in conjunction with Alpha Psi Omega Theater Honor Society, RCTV and the College Programming Board, put on a shadow cast presentation of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show." It was an interesting night, with Friends Hall packed with students all the way to the back row. Some were dressed up as characters from the film, while some had large red Vs written on their forehead.

The "V" stands for virgin, meaning someone who has never been to a shadow cast performance for "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" before.

The story of "Rocky Horror" centers around a young, newly engaged couple whose tire goes flat on their way to visit an old professor. They take a wrong turn and end up seeking shelter in a castle, stumbling upon a party held by the mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter. The film is both a parody of and tribute to science fiction B-movies of the mid-20th century.

Originally a stage musical called the "Rocky Horror Show," it debuted in London in 1973. Although the stage show was a success and prompted the making of the now-famous film, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” tested poorly in the United States, and was shelved by many theaters. Years later in 1977, someone dusted it off and put it on as a midnight movie at the Waverly Theater (now IFC Theater) in New York City's Greenwhich Village. It was an instant success, with many of the same audience members returning for every showing.

That particular theater is almost singular in pioneering the cult of "Rocky Horror." It is where fans began coming up with the strange, explicit banter that is shouted from the audience along with the characters' dialogue and was also where the shadow casting began. In terms of Rocky Horror, shadow casting is when a group of fans dress up as the characters, stand in the front of the theater and act out the scenes as they are happening. Since then, this ritual has expanded all over the country and other places around the world.

According to performer and associate producer Nick D'Ambrosia, "nobody involved in this production had ever been involved in one before, and only a few had even attended one."

He also said that because most of the cast members are also involved in the theater department's main stage productions, it was difficult to get rehearsals in.

"Virgins" are one of the central tenets of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” cult. At the beginning of each presentation, the master of ceremonies (in this case, D'Ambrosia) selects a few virgins to "sacrifice" in some embarrassing acts. On Thursday, the virgins had to inflate condoms, spray whipped cream into each other's mouth, and race with a dildo between their legs.

One "Rocky Horror" virgin, Eddie Guillen, had never even seen the original film and took part in the rituals. He said, "I had never seen it at all. I was told not to look up anything about it."

During a follow up conversation at the end of the performance, freshman and former virgin Emilia Szmacinski said that she was surprised at how many audience callbacks there were. The shadow cast encouraged audience participation by shouting things out themselves, as well as performing along with the movie.