Since 2001, Ohio University’s Lost Flamingo Theatre Company has put on a live rendition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Union Bar and Grill. The annual show returns to The Union from Thursday to Saturday.
The performance is part of a long and notable tradition surrounding the cult film. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is considered the longest-running film ever because it has been in limited release since its original release in 1975.
For the uninitiated, Rocky Horror is the story of two straight-laced sweethearts whose car breaks down near the castle of the eccentric Dr. Frank N. Furter. The film is famous for its absurdist humor, lively soundtrack and themes of personal liberation.
Live productions include a full cast of main characters and a “whorus.” Lost Flamingo Theatre Director Darragh Liaskos, a senior studying media and social change, said the film doesn’t differ much from the movie.
“We are re-enacting the film as it happens,” she said. “We do take some liberties, of course; the film differs because it had a budget and a set.”
The live shows are also famously interactive. First-time audience attendees are referred to as “virgins” and bear an optional red V on their foreheads. Cast members come off the stage and play games with the crowd, especially virgins.
“We bring virgins on stage of course, but if someone from the whorus comes down and you don’t feel comfortable going up there, make it known,” Liaskos said. “We play interactive games, like the Twizzler race, where you eat two ends of a Twizzler and whoever kisses first wins. Another is where you get on your knees and put a banana on a condom. But virgins aren’t forced or obligated to come on stage or anything. Consent is key.”
This will mark Liaskos’ second year directing the show, and she began the process for Rocky Horror early in the year. Starting in May, she booked show dates with The Union. The casting process began in August, and practices were held three times a week for two hours each.
Rocky Horror is made possible by OU’s Senate Appropriations Commission (SAC), but the provided funding does not cover the cost of all costume elements.
“We get SAC funding through the university,” Liaskos said. “Some stuff is out of pocket. SAC won’t pay for lingerie, so the cast has to get it themselves. If they get parts year after year, they can keep their costumes and reuse.”
Costuming and makeup is essential to any production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Cast members sometimes have to pay out-of-pocket for their costuming.
Zach Delin, a senior studying linguistics, has played the male lead, Brad Majors, since his freshman year.
“All of the costuming and stuff like that is my own clothes from over the years,” Delin said.
Preparing for the show can be stressful, but most of the cast members are long-time Rocky Horror fans — they know the characters.
“At this point, I’m already Brad,” Delin said. “But I feel like before the show, I calm down a little bit. I try to think not like myself for a little bit and try to get into his head.”
For some cast members, this year will be their first production of Rocky Horror.
“I’m actually a virgin. My first time being at a Rocky Horror show is being in it,” Nathan Stanley, a freshman studying music education, said. Stanley plays the part of Dr. Everett V. Scott. “I don’t have any makeup. I wear a big, gross fake mustache and, as far a costume, I don’t wear a shirt. I wear a tie and a suit jacket and wear no pants and fishnets. I had the jacket and tie already. I bought the mustache. The wheelchair was provided, and the fishnets I also bought myself.”
Many cast members were introduced to the film in their childhoods.
“I actually watched Rocky when I was 10,” Kylee Pauley, a freshman studying theater, said. “I’ve been a big fan of it ever since. It’s important for me to go to Rocky screenings every year around Halloween.”
Pauley will play Magenta, Dr. Frank N. Furter’s maid, who Pauley described as a “the goth girlfriend that everyone wants.”
For Pauley, her first time performing with Lost Flamingo has required a lot of time and effort.
“It’s a lot of learning how to walk in heels, trying not to sweat with the huge wig on and trying to prepare myself mentally to go out there and have a fun time and scream with people and act crazy and live our lives,” she said.
Pauley advised virgins to be prepared but to embrace the experience.
“Have fun with it. Don’t be afraid,” she said. “Really just try to experience what Rocky is in its truest form, about body positivity and love.”
Correction: A previous version of this photo caption misspelled Brian Bennett and Zach Delin’s names. The caption has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.