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Ohio University’s Los Flamingo Theatre Companies cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ provides haven for queer representation

It’s been done in theaters, on Broadway, in “Glee” and next weekend, it returns to The Union. 

Lost Flamingo Theater Company, or LFC, is known for its annual showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a staple seen around Ohio University as a must-watch performance to get students in the Halloween spirit and allow self-expression. Next weekend, LFC student performers will perform the show at The Union, 18 W. Union St., Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

The cult-classic film first debuted in 1975, and was seen as a controversial, yet progressive film that saw queer representation and defiance of gender roles infiltrate mainstream media. Because of its impact, the film has been able to retain its relevance through pop culture, strengthened through TV shows and movies such as “Glee” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

“I think it was ahead of its time with its queer representation, and it's just so out there,” Abbie Ogilbee, a sophomore studying nursing who plays Columbia, said. “I've probably watched it like 30-40 times this year, and it does not get old. You can see a different angle every time.”

The themes of acceptance, eccentricity and individuality are one of the reasons why students gravitate towards participating in LFC’s version of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” finding the film’s authentic characters and sexual dialogue intriguing.

“My freshman year was the year of COVID, so I didn't get to do much, but when I had visited OU for the first time, I had heard about a theater company that does ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,’” Carrie Love, a junior studying women’s, gender and sexuality studies and history who plays Eddie, said. “I said, ‘I know that I need to be a part of this,’ so I sought them out during my sophomore Involvement Fair.”

Love is playing Eddie, a biker played by rock star Meat Loaf in the film, and has been in this role since last year, as students in “Rocky Horror'' retain their parts annually until they graduate, or as long as they like them. While Eddie is a male-presenting character, she’s playing him as a woman, a common instance of the gender-bending seen in many of LFC’s productions.

Quinn Bennett, a junior studying environmental studies, plays Dr. Frank N. Furter and sees the role as an opportunity to have fun and play around with traditional gender norms.

“(For) Frank N. Furter, they always use he/him pronouns to refer to him, but he dresses incredibly feminine, has very feminine makeup,” Bennett said. “Also all of the characters in the play are so gay the whole time, and I think that the overall message of the show is that it doesn't really matter who you love as long as you're happy with it.”

One of the other main messages of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” being your true self, is also what attracts audiences every year at The Union, promoting acceptance and inclusion of all identities.

“One of the other big messages, and it's one that you hear a lot when people talk about the show, is don't dream it, be it,” Bennett said. “It's the idea of you don't have to be confined by just  thinking about being what you want to be, you can be whoever you want to be, you can dress however you want to dress.”

Additionally, Love said the show is experimental for a reason, hence why it’s an opportunity for new and current students to attend an LFC production that embraces its quirks and sexual material.

“I think one of the great things about ‘Rocky (Horror Picture Show’) too is that whether you're part of the audience or part of the cast or crew, it's a place where anybody can be themselves,” Love said. “It's a show all about being 100% yourself, no holds barred. Everyone messes with gender and sexuality, and it is such a cool experimental piece of art, and so I think that's also something to look forward to and embrace as well.”

Overall, Love said “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a production worth the watch, especially as it creates an environment where every student can feel seen.

“I think part of the reason that it resonates so well with these crowds too is because when this whole tradition of doing the shadow casts and dressing up started, it (was) a way for people to be in an environment where everybody else is also being who they want to be,” Bennett said. “It's so great for that because everybody there is a freak, like, ‘Oh, awesome. I'm a part of this too.’”


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