Disclaimer: A Michigan Daily staff member played a role in this production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” but they were not involved in the creation of this piece.
Amid a season of frights, spook and terror, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a refreshing, camp film-embodiment of the Halloween season. Presented and shadow-casted by The Leather Medusas, a group dedicated solely to these Halloween season performances, at the Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” tells the story of Brad and Janet, fiancees who unexpectedly wander into a creepy world of horror-filled twists inside Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s mansion.
Part of what makes “Rocky Horror” so iconic is its attachment to the Queer community, and as such, it has managed to stand the test of time. Filled with exaggerated, outrageous drama centering around Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the “sweet transvestite,” “Rocky Horror” has been transformed from a movie to a cultural experience. The Michigan Theater’s production was no exception.
Upon entering a magical theater that set the regal mood, audiences met staff scanning tickets dressed as extravagantly as the show’s characters. This attention to costume selection carried over into audience, with each viewer donning more intricate makeup, fishnets and patent leather detailing than the last. A local drag king stepped onto the stage to ring in the show, receiving a roar from the audience and doing a fantastic job of balancing comedy with an explanation of the live show rules. The cult classic’s live showings feature cues for lines that the audience can and should scream out loud, and the packed Ann Arbor audience did just this.
The Leather Medusas’ actors presenting the movie in real-time made the classic ShadowCast even more refreshing and electric. During the intro song, “Science Fiction/Double Feature,” a dancer strutted out on the stage with brilliant technical execution, bold facial expressions and acrobatic, sensual tricks to get the crowd on the edge of their seats. Each performer’s twist to the costuming, makeup and choreography were beautiful tributes to the original that elevated it through a modern-day lens. In the film, Eddie is portrayed as gruff and masculine, extremely contrary to the live depiction. Upon Eddie’s booming entrance, the performer, with eyelashes long enough to touch the sky, mounted a pony head in place of Eddie’s motorcycle. This gave the performance an element of surprise, while strengthening the production’s Queer, gender role-defying roots.
The performance contained highly interactive elements that kept the audience nearly a part of the performance throughout the hour and 45 minute run time. Actors twirled and leapt into the audience, immersing them in the “Time Warp” scene. Each and every person sang and danced to the classic scene’s bop. These personal details made the trek and price of admission worth it, as it became more than just a watch party of a movie that’s accessible within our own warm homes. Instead, the audience was invited into the imaginative, free and ghastly world of “Rocky Horror.”
The Michigan Theater’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” left the entire audience “shivering with anticipation,” waiting for what could come next until the final moment. With the perfect timing of audience remarks, empowering casting of a genderbent Brad and a sassy kickline of the actors on the glistening stage, there is no doubt that Frank-N-Furter’s mansion is worth a visit next Halloween season.
Daily Arts Contributor Bobby Currie can be reached at email@example.com.