The antici––pation is over!
So come on up to the lab – or rather the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor on Friday, Oct. 29, at 10 p.m. (see sidebar) – and see what’s on the slab. In this case, it’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show, featuring a shadowcast by the Leather Medusas, a troupe of performers who are no stranger to this movie or this theater.
The 1975 cult classic began as a musical in 1973, spoofing low-budget science-fiction and B horror movies. Singer/actor Meat Loaf (best known for the classic Bat Out of Hell album) starred in the original musical in Los Angeles, doing double-duty playing Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott.
“Before the movie, I did it in L.A. Every A-list, B-list, C-list film actor came. Every A-list, B-list, C-list actor on television came. Models came. It was like the thing to do. Every weekend, we were invited to someone’s celebrity party,” recalled Meat Loaf earlier this month at the Motor City Comic Con in Novi. “Rocky Horror was always best when it came in under the radar. So, anyway, they made a poster that said, ‘Give our regards to Broadway. Tell them we’re on our way.’ That opened the door. Every critic in the world was coming after it.”
In 1975, the musical debuted on Broadway. Despite earning a Tony and three Drama Desks nominations, it ran only for 45 shows. That same year, the movie adaptation debuted, which starred Tim Curry (It), Barry Bostwick (Spin City), and Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise). Meat Loaf appeared too, but only as Eddie.
From Critical Failure to Cult Classic
Upon its release in 1975, Rocky Horror was critically panned, but it became a midnight movie and amassed a strong cult following. A large part of the cult following is comprised of the LBGTQ+ community, who identified with the movie’s sexual liberation.
Audiences shouted back at the screen, threw toilet paper, and dressed up as the characters. This caught on and spread, eventually leading to shadowcasts where actors mimed the actions on the screen above. Today, it has become a cultural phenomenon and is considered one of the greatest musicals of all time, playing in theaters all over the nation, especially during Halloween.
The movie opens with oversized, disembodied female lips appearing onscreen speaking in a male voice. The story begins with newly-engaged couple Brad Majors (Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Sarandon), whose car breaks down on a rainy night. They walk to a nearby castle to use a telephone. What they find there changes their lives forever.
The couple encounters Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a “sweet transvestite from transexual Transylvania” who’s a mad scientist, and a cast of colorful characters at the Annual Transylvanian Convention. Frank shows them his greatest creation: the handsome, muscular man named Rocky. More hijinks ensue, including plenty of singing and dancing, most notably “The Time Warp” and “Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul” (performed by Meat Loaf).
Being in the Moment
Meat Loaf praised Curry’s performance as Frank, which he also originated on stage.
“Tim’s extraordinary – an extraordinary actor and an extraordinary human being,” he said. “I studied acting and you hear all the time how you got to be in the moment. I thought I knew exactly what being in the moment was. Tim taught me what really being in the moment is because in rehearsal, there’s a line where he says, ‘Dr. Scott, we meet at last.’ I answered, ‘Well, Frank-N-Furter, I guess we do meet.’ I had some response. He said it the same way all the time in rehearsal and the same way in the first show.”
That changed with the second show, where Curry spoke the line differently.
“If I would’ve said my line the way I’d been saying it, I’d have looked like an idiot… I had to deliver my line completely different,” explained Meat Loaf. “When it was all over, I went backstage – ‘That’s what being in the moment is.’ My guess is most actors don’t really know what being in the moment is. Somebody like (John) Belushi or (Dan) Aykroyd who do a lot of improv (know) what being in the moment is. It’s important to be in the moment.”
If You Go…
The Rocky Horror Picture Show will be screened at the Michigan Theater, located at 603 E Liberty St. in Ann Arbor, on Friday, Oct. 29, at 10 p.m. Ticket prices are as follows:
- General Admission: $10.50
- Students (with valid ID), senior citizens, and military veterans: $8.50
- MTF members: $8
While dressing up in costume is encouraged, the following items are not allowed at the screening:
- Water guns
- Hot dogs
- Toilet paper
Proof of full COVID vaccination or results of a negative COVID test (within 72 hours) are required to attend the screening. Masks are required for all attendees, regardless of vaccination status.