Dig Baton Rouge

Appreciating the impact of The Rocky Horror Show

By Nick BeJeaux

On June 19, 1973, a cultural phenomenon was born on the stage of the Royal Court Theatre in London, England – a phenomenon that would sweep across the Atlantic and influence and inspire teens and young adults for decades to come in the U.S. and around the world.

That phenomenon was and is The Rocky Horror Show.

For the virgins (as the uninitiated are called by fans of the Show) of the world, The Rocky Horror Show is musical that spins the fantastically fabulous and whimsical tale of a recently engaged couple that encounters a transvestite alien scientist after their car breaks down in a rain storm off the beaten path. From there, well… you’ll just have to see for yourself. Spoilers aside, it’s the kind of show you have to see to believe. Luckily, you’ll have the chance to do just that.

On Oct. 30-31 the Manship Film Series will be screening The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the 1975 film adaptation of the musical starring Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick, in the Manship Theatre from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. The Baton Rouge Film Commission asks fans to please refrain from bringing confetti, water pistols, hotdogs and prunes. Flashlights (torches), rubber gloves, toilet paper, noisemakers, toast, party hats, bells and cards are allowed.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the prime example of a film with a cult following and a transmitter of culture across the years,” said Liza Kelso, executive director of the BR Film Commission and a diehard fan of the Show. “When you live in big city like New York or Los Angeles, it’s easy to take advantage of theatres that show films like this, but we don’t have that here. The Manship provides that; it continues to feed the culture for filmmakers and lovers of film.”

“Cult following” is an apt description for Rocky Horror fans, who became radical fanatic followers of the show almost immediately after the play opened in 1973. “True” fans of the Show brag (and rightly so) of knowing every single line of the musical, bring toast to plays and screenings (I’d tell you why, but why spoil the surprise?) and can do the Time Warp (the Show’s signature dance) better than the cast. While the film set standard for portrayal of the characters (nearly every Frank N. Further since 1975 has emulated Curry’s look and vocal style), the theatrical experience hinges on audience interaction – mostly shouting out sexual overtures to the cast, puns, and pop cultural references making each performance unique. Rocky Horror’s uniquely dedicated followers and timeless appeal have made it immortal – passing from one generation to another like a handshake…while wearing bubblegum pink rubber gloves.

Kelso’s first taste of the weirdness that is TRHS in 1975 with her dad, who took her to see the show off-Broadway in Manhattan. From that point on, Kelso’s eyes were opened to a much larger, stranger world than she was used to and that, she says, was for the better.

“That experience opened my eyes wide. I’m from Natchez, Mississippi; transvestites didn’t exist in my world until then,” she said. “I think that’s why experiencing this film and play is held as a right of passage. It’s silly, but it’s also serious. This is definitely something everyone should see at least once; I am definitely passing it on to my kids.”


For ticket information, visit www.manshiptheatre.org.


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