Cult classic ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ is center of local events this Halloween season
WILKES-BARRE — “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has become a Halloween tradition for cult film fans, including those in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This month, local fans of the story have a chance to catch the original on the silver screen, live performance on stage and the anticipated remake on television.
The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts will host its third annual midnight showing of the film version Oct. 22 at the conclusion of their all-day Halloween film festival. The following weekend, Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre’s live “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” stage performance is scheduled for 8 p.m. Oct. 28, as well as two showings Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. and midnight. Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre’s production is directed by Justin John Costello, an area native who moved to New York City to study directing before moving to Kingston in 2011. This will be his first time directing the community theater cast.
“It’s really a community, the theater’s been there awhile, it’s been 94 years,” Costello said. “What’s good about community theater is that people are doing this because they love it, and so when you have that love and that passion going into it it kind of elevates something. It’s become a communal family experience in a way so it’s been great.”
Costello’s take on “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” looks to hit the story’s counter-culture theme with slight redesigns for the punky Transylvanians and the castle itself, intended to clash with the lead’s ’50s aesthetic in a new-yet-familiar way.
“Instead of a typical dark Gothic castle effect, ours is symbolic — it’s primarily red and white,” Costello said. “The Transylvanians, like Magenta, Riff Raff and Anette, who are basically the aliens, originally the production used punk-inspired (costumes) and at the time punk was just beginning to formulate. We’re just kind of going further with that. We’re taking punk, but we’re doing steampunk, which is a mixture of old and new and kind of a high class couture look for them.”
Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre welcomes certain props and crowd participation during classic moments — Costello warned, however, that the actors may be apt to shout back. Those who can dish it out but can’t take it may want to consider viewing the film at F.M. Kirby Center the week before. Classic crowd call-outs and most props will be allowed, and director of sales and marketing Anne Rodella said low light will be provided for guests who feel like acting out scenes or dancing. Like Little Theatre, people are welcome to come in costume, but Rodella said the experience is also safe for those who consider themselves “Rocky Horror virgins.”
“Some venues make a big deal about being a Rocky Horror virgin,” Rodella said. “Our theater is so large, it’s 1,000 seats on the main floor. If you haven’t experienced it before or you’re nervous about the callbacks and everybody throwing stuff, the first year I saw it I sat all the way in the back in the corner and it was almost like watching two shows.”
Movie fans can also attend the F.M. Kirby Center’s film screenings throughout the day, all for $5 each. “Hotel Transylvania,” “The Birds” and “Friday the 13th” serve as appetizers before the main midnight course, all part of a film festival Rodella has helped organize for the last three years, with “Rocky Horror Picture Show” as its crown jewel.
“I think it’s nice to be able to see it at midnight. I think it’s nice to be able to see it in a building that has a history of being a movie theater,” Rodella said. “I think it’s nice to cut loose at the Kirby Center too. It’s fun, it’s silly and you get to escape for a little bit and throw some rice. It’s just a good time.”
For those who want to enjoy the kooky horror from home, FOX has just what Dr. Frank-N-Furter ordered. At 8 p.m. Oct. 20, the network will air “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again,” a production that uses the film’s original script. Laverne Cox (“Orange is the New Black”) stars as the mad alien doctor, along with Victoria Justice as Janet Weiss and Ryan McCartan as Brad Majors. Original Frank-N-Furter Tim Curry will appear as the narrator and a criminologist.
FOX’s production will also star Christina Milian as maid Magenta, Adam Lambert as “What Ever Happened to Saturday Night?” singer Eddie and Reeve Carney as Frank-N-Furter’s right-hand man Riff Raff. The television movie can be found on local FOX stations, or streaming live on FOX.com or the FOX NOW app. It will be available to view on-demand beginning Oct. 21 — just in time for Halloween parties.
Halloween is for things that creep and crawl and people who dwell in cults. Over the years, a cult has developed around “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and with two local options presented on different weekends and in different mediums, local cult members have two altars upon which to throw offerings of rice to the good doctor Frank-N-Furter.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts
What props to bring and when to use to them
Uncooked rice: Brad and Janet’s friends are recently married. When the newlyweds exit the church, throw your rice in the air along with the on-screen wedding guests.
Newspaper: Brad and Janet are caught in a rainstorm. Janet uses a copy of The Plain Dealer to cover her head. Use a copy of Weekender to cover your own.
Water pistols: During a rainstorm people get wet. The water pistols simulate the rain from which Janet is protecting herself.
Candles, flashlights or a lighter: Light up the theater with these props when you hear the “There’s a light/Over at the Frankenstein Place/There’s a light/Burning in the fireplace.
Rubber gloves: During the creation speech, Frank snaps his gloves three times. Later in the movie, Magenta pulls off his gloves. Audiences should snap their cloves in sync each time.
Noisemakers: After the creation speech is over, join the on-screen applause and noise-making using your own noisemakers.
Confetti: Confetti is tossed as Rocky and Frank head toward the bedroom after the reprise of “I Can Make You A Man.”
Toilet paper: Brad yells “Great Scott!” when Dr. Scott enters the laboratory. At this point, throw your toilet paper into the air.
Toast: Frank proposes a toast at dinner. When he does this, audience members should throw their toast into the air.
Party hat: Put on your party hat when Frank puts on his.
Bell: Ring your bell during the song ”Planet Schmanet, Janet” when Frank sings “Did you hear a bell ring?”
Cards: During “I’m Going Home” Frank sings about “cards for sorrow, cards for pain,” when he sings those lyrics, shower the theater with cards.