Rocky Horror screening delights newcomers

Kailey Love / Managing Editor
Accompanying the screening is a “shadowcast” who lip-sync along to the film in costume, a tradition dating back to some of the film’s earliest screenings.

Kailey Love | Managing Editor

10/18/18

The Halloween season brings about some of the most beloved holiday traditions; pumpkin picking, trick-or-treating, monster mashing, what have you. But, most importantly, the change in the weather indicates that one of the paramount spooky activities is upon us once more — it’s time to do the time warp again.

(This is not to say that you can’t do the time warp year round, of course!)

For those who are not familiar with this age-old practice, it is derived from the cult-classic Rocky Horror Picture Show, a science-fiction horror-comedy musical released in 1975. The basic plot follows the plight of the young, unsuspecting Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), who end up in the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) after their car breaks down. Originally in search of a telephone to call for help, the couple gets much more than they bargained for — a mad scientist alien transvestite, a lab grown muscle man and several lively dance numbers.

Of course, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, as you should experience this “late night, double feature, picture show” for yourself. And here in Pittsburgh, there is no better way to enjoy this film than heading to the Hollywood Theater in Dormont to see the film, as well as enjoying the live cast that accompanies the original movie on stage.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary of the Rocky Horror shadowcast earlier this year, the Hollywood Theater’s midnight showings are a must for any Pittsburgh bucket list. Popularized by the 2012 film Perks of Being a Wallflower, in which the Hollywood Theater was featured in Perks’ own depiction of the Rocky Horror shadowcast, the traditionally cult-classic activity has captured the attention of a wider audience and become a staple Halloween activity amongst Pittsburgh college and high school students.

Experiencing the film with a shadowcast is a two for one deal — not only do you watch the original Rocky Horror on screen, but you also get to enjoy actors lip-syncing along and acting out the scenes on stage, while other off-stage actors ad-lib comments and jokes from the wings.

The Junior Chamber of Commerce Players (JCCP), Pittsburgh’s official Rocky Horror Picture Show stage cast, is featured at the Hollywood Theater and other Pittsburgh theaters year round. Originally dubbed “The Cast with No Name” that performed at Oakland’s Kings Court Theater, the group has been around since the late 1970s/early 1980s. After the closing of Oakland theater in 1989, the group moved to the Hollywood theater in 1990 and officially dubbed themselves the JCCP (after a line said by Janet in Rocky Horror in which she exlaims, “This isn’t the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Brad!”).

Three out of the show’s eight rules are very explicit about the JCCP’s expectations for the audience: “This show is about fun. If you are not having fun, you are doing something wrong!”

The live cast viewing is also interactive and encourages audiences to participate with props. Prop bags are sold at the Hollywood Theater for $3 a piece, containing everything you need to join in the fun; examples being a piece of toast, thrown when Frank-N-Furter makes a toast during the dinner scene and a newspaper, for the audience to hold over their heads as Janet does when caught in the storm.

And, obviously, the audience is expected to participate in the “Time Warp” (I’m sure you know how it goes — “It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right…”).

Fair warning: If you have never seen the show and plan to go, you will be marked immediately upon arrival with a red letter “V” (to signify that you are a Rocky Horror shadowcast virgin) which requires a bit of extra audience participation on your part before the show begins.

Overall, this is an incredibly fun experience that you should immediately add to your Halloween activities roster. The Hollywood Theater will have two more shows this month on Oct. 26 and 27 at midnight, just in time to get you in the spooky spirit and up on your feet doing the time warp.

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