When I first decided to stage a production of “The Rocky Horror Show”- the stage version of the 1975 cult classic, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” – I did not expect to still be working on it, carrying on a Louisville tradition, five years later.
As artistic director of nonprofit theatre company Acting Against Cancer, I knew “Rocky Horror” would appeal to our audiences when we produced it the first time, and I had a vague idea that maybe we could do a concert version or something similar the next year. I’ll admit, at that point, I didn’t really get “Rocky,” as so many people don’t the first time they’re exposed to it. Wait so this guy wears fishnets and has a hunchback butler? And his Frankenstein monster is actually a bodybuilder in tiny gold shorts? And wait, they’re all aliens?! Is it comedy? Horor? Musical? Parody? It’s weird!
Because the material didn’t immediately resonate with me, that first show in 2014, which ran for two weekends at The Henry Clay Theatre, was just okay – I didn’t get it. But once it was over and I reflected more critically on it, I knew we could do better because I started to understand “Rocky.” And over the last five years as we have produced the show every Halloween season, I can now say with certainty: I get it.
“Rocky Horror” is a glorious, zany, irresistible celebration of being who you are. It exalts individuality and embraces the things that make us different. It unapologetically sends a much-needed message of love, encouragement and originality. Consequently, it only makes sense that in recent years, we have partnered with PLAY Louisville as our venue, a place that, under co-owner and operator Micah McGowan’s leadership, is an all-inclusive haven, a safe place for every kind of person with the same mission as the message of “Rocky Horror.”
As we have established our “Rocky” as a concrete new Louisville tradition – taking the torch from the beloved 1980’s and 90’s Vogue and Baxter Avenue screenings – we have seen our “Rocky” show up in places outside of its usual last-weekend-in-October engagement at PLAY. The last two years, we have taken it to PLAY Nashville earlier in the month, we regularly serve as the shadow cast (silent actors in costume acting out the movie in front of the screen) at Copper & Kings Distillery’s biannual screenings, we performed as the shadow cast at the Speed Art Museum's Vogue retrospective screening and even had the opportunity to perform the “Time Warp” for the film version’s Brad and Magenta – Barry Bostwick and Patricia Quinn – at a recent sci-fi convention in Louisville.
This fall, we’re taking on yet another project in addition to performing at Copper & Kings and PLAY in Nashville and Louisville: a brand new event called Rocky Horror on the Hill. Iroquois Amphitheater will be hosting a screening for the first time, complete with “Time Warp” dance instruction led by AAC as well as a costume contest. The September 20 event will officially kick off what we call “Rocky Season” and hopefully be a wonderful new collaboration that will introduce new audience members to the magic of “Rocky.”
If you’ve never been to “Rocky Horror,” we can help. Check out one of our shadow cast performances, or better yet, visit us at PLAY Louisville October 25, 26 and 31 for our live show complete with singing, dancing and acting! Audience participation is highly encouraged, so bust out your fish- nets, don’t be shy and come along for the ride! And if you’re hesitant, you can take so- lace in knowing that all proceeds go to support a very worthy cause, as AAC’s mission is to change the lives of children touched by cancer through the arts.
There’s no wrong way to enjoy “Rocky,” and with October 2019 marking our sixth annual production, I’d like to say we know what we’re doing by now. Remember, it’s just a jump to the left!
"ROCKY" SEASON SCHEDULE
September 20: "Rocky Horror" on the Hill
Iroquois Amphitheater FREE Admission
October 4: "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" screening featuring the AAC shadow cast
Copper & Kings, $10
October 11-12: "The Rocky Horror Show"
PLAY Nashville, $10
October 25-26 & 31: "The Rocky Horror Show"
PLAY Louisville, $10