A Toast to The Rocky Horror Picture Show!
What could be better than spending your Halloween night watching fellow college students strip down, dance and re-enact one of the most scandalous musicals ever created with a big red ‘V’ on your forehead? Absolutely nothing. This year, Oglethorpe’s student theater club, Rehearsal Room C, put on the second shadow production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween night.
For those who are unfamiliar with the cult-classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows couple Brad and Janet on their “interesting” night in Dr. Frank-N-Furter's mansion with major themes of sex, seduction and lust. The brilliant and daring cast consisted of all freshmen with the exception of 3 students. The lead role, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, was played by Jeremy Cooper, also the director of the musical. The lovely couple, Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, was played by Joseph Scott and Sammi Rowell. Siblings Riff Raff and Magenta were played by George Burdick and Stephanie Henderson. Dr. Frank-n-Furter's ex-lover, Columbia, was portrayed by Wendy Gonzalez. Alex Ray played the monster-like creation, Rocky Horror. Parker Hughes took on the two roles of Dr. Everett von Scott and Eddie. Finally, Emily Farmer portrayed the criminologist.
This year’s show was directed by third year biopsychology major student Jeremy Cooper. Jeremy is heavily involved with OU’s theater department and around campus in general. Cooper is the editor of The Tower Literary Magazine, he is the vice president of OU improv club mOUthing Off, he takes the role of treasurer in Petrel’s Poetry Society and does much more. I had the opportunity to ask the talented director some questions about this year’s production.
What was your experience like directing the show and working with the cast?
Enjoyable and enlightening. It was actually my first time directing something that wasn’t my own creation while also being a much higher scale of show, so I was originally quite fretful. We also had nearly 20 days to compose the full show, which was daunting enough without most the cast also being in spring Awakening AND The Normal Heart.
That sounds like a heavy load to carry, but you and the cast did great! In your personal opinion, what is it about Rocky Horror that makes it so different from typical musicals and other theater productions?
Thank you! It’s all about the spirit. Don’t get me wrong, but Rocky Horror Picture Show is by no means a critically acclaimed cinema masterpiece; it’s trashy, ridiculous and bizarre. The thing that makes it so different and so beloved is it’s ability to capture some element of human spirit—the vulgarity and eccentricity of youth and celebrate it so unabashedly. It encourages the chaos and cherishes the crazy, which is why you see audience reaction and participation as it is for the show.
I loved the interaction between the cast & audience, I can confidently say it’s something I’ve never experienced before! Finally, what are some other productions or things we can expect from Rehearsal Room C in the future?
Probably not. However, Rehearsal Room C is doing The Normal Heart, which will involve Alex Ray and Joseph Scott, beginning Nov. 21.
Rocky Horror Picture Show was a new and different musical experience for me and many others who attended. The cast made the production much more enjoyable by playing games, interacting with the audience, and encouraging audience participation by shouting words and phrases throughout the musical. I briefly spoke with Sammi Rowell about her experience of interacting with the audience. Sammi said, “Rocky horror shadow casts are usually a super interactive experience, and we wanted to make sure they felt just as into the show as we did.” After I asked her how it felt from a cast member’s perspective interacting with the audience, she stated, “The audience participated so well, and their energy kept mine way up. They were also boosting my confidence the whole time.” Sammi explained that a lot of the interactions was just pure improv.
Rehearsal Room C packed the game room with the production of Rocky Horror. If students would like to see more from RRC, they invite all Oglethorpe students to see powerful dramatic play The Normal Heart with RHPS actors Alex Ray and Joseph Scott starting on Nov. 21. Thank you very much to Wendy Gonzalez for assistance with this article, to Sammi Rowell for a cast member’s point of view, and of course to director Jeremy Cooper for taking the time to answer questions and directing a fantastic musical. Congratulations to the cast of Rocky Horror Picture Show for a successful show!