Rocky Horror: Experiencing the show from onstage

Preparation for the show. Photo by Carl Fonticella.

Students Ashley Labaki and Jake Crosen reparation for the show. Photo by Carl Fonticella.

With the exception of maybe a recluse living in the wilderness for the entirety of his or her lifetime, we all know at least a few pop culture references. There are those few that stay relevant for a few months, like a reference to a Vine video or some ridiculous song, and there are the references that last for years, decades even, and have a lasting effect on pop culture.

There is one movie in particular to which I am referring, and that is none other than the Rocky Horror Picture Show. This cult classic from the 70’s has become an iconic influence on several works created after its conception. The movie stars Tim Curry as the deliciously deplorable Dr. Frank N Furter, a “sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania” and features other notable names such as Susan Sarandon, Little Nell, and Meatloaf.

The movie became a midnight movie in 1977 after audience members began participating with the show in theaters. Those attending dress up as characters from Rocky Horror and sing and dance along with the movie as it played.

The Lost Flamingo Company at Ohio University has kept this tradition alive. For years, the student acting troupe performs Rocky Horror around Halloweentime at The Union while the movie plays on a projector behind the performers. I got the opportunity this year to be part of the production as a freshman member of the chorus, affectionately referred to as the “Whorus”.

I had heard of the production through friends that were past members of the group, and the acting troupe was one of the first organizations that I planned to join. I don’t think I truly grasped what was to be expected of me in the production until I saw the audition paper, which asked questions such as whether I was comfortable wearing lingerie on stage or kissing other actors and actresses. It was a little disconcerting, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of this play; I am a thespian, after all.

Meet the lovely Columbia. Photo by Carl Fonticella.

Meet the lovely Columbia, n’e freshman student Laken Donahue. Photo by Carl Fonticella.

After the first round of auditions, I was pleased to find out that I got a callback, and a few days later I found out that I was a Whorus member. There were a few meetings to introduce ourselves after that, and being a freshman and not knowing anyone else in the group was intimidating; it seemed as though almost everyone knew each other from either the acting troupe or outside of it as friends, so my social anxieties were running a tad rampant.

I was quiet at these meetings and I was quiet for most of the practices with the Whorus. Not to mention the dances and movements were way more sexual than anything I’ve ever done before in musical theater, so I was feeling significantly awkward.

I’m probably making it sound as though I didn’t have any fun with this production, which is far from the case. I did struggle with a good portion of shyness during the practices and meetings, but the interactions that I had and observed were great. The best part was probably learning the dances.

I wasn’t used to the sexy aspect of it all, but it was fun to learn and pretend that I was someone who was, which is a major essence of performing and acting. When I’m dancing as a Whorus member, I get to be someone I’m totally not, and it’s exhilarating.

Buying the outfit was another interesting moment. I’ve never worn a corset or fishnets in my life, and there I was at the costume shop on Court trying to figure out what kind of corset to buy, what style of fishnets I should wear, and if I should buy tiny, frilly shorts or just wear underwear on the outside of the tights. It’s kind of hysterical thinking about it now because I probably looked scared shitless.

Dancing in the costume at the dress rehearsals was interesting. The first time I was so insecure about being in my outfit, but after seeing everyone in basically the same attire kind of made it a little easier…and honestly, it was fun once I got use to it.

Your friendly neighborhood Whorus doing some casual groping. Photo by Carl Fonticella.

Your friendly neighborhood Whorus doing some casual groping. Photo by Carl Fonticella.

The next step is actually performing the show and not only acting sexy in front of audience members, but also seducing the audience members during the show as well. If I didn’t already make it clear that I was scared shitless, let me just restate that I am; but I think I’m way more excited to perform than anything.

So yeah, come watch me and the other Rocky cast members shake our asses at The Union.

The opening night of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Union will be on Wednesday, Oct 30 at 10 pm, followed by a show on Oct 31 and Nov 1 at the same time. Here’s The Lost Flamingo Company’s official FB invite.

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