Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Rocky Horror Disney entertains with an ‘anything goes policy’

Published: January 31, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc., Featured

For all those truly unfamiliar with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, be advised: there is a special induction process for those who have never been to a midnight showing of this cinematic classic, just like the one presented last Saturday here at Brandeis.

Somewhat of an underground cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows newly-engaged couple, Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, who, after a flat tire, find themselves stranded along a road surrounded by woods. Having seen a mansion nearby, the couple trek toward it with the hopes of seeking refuge as well as a working phone. Unknowingly, they actually stumble upon a gang of misfit aliens led by the “sweet transvestite” from the planet Transsexual, in the Transylvania galaxy: Dr. Frank-N-Furter. As the narrator foreshadows the above, the two find themselves taking a fantastically strange journey filled with screams, shock and sexual discovery as the plot unfolds.

Through the campus club RHOPE (Rocky Horror Official Production Ensemble), first time goers and veteran fans alike were treated to a special performance held in Schwartz Hall of Rocky Horror by RKO Army—a Rhode Island and Massachusetts based shadow cast. A shadow cast performance is one where a cast acts out the actions shown in a movie playing in the background. In this case, it can be described as one part pantomime, two parts lip-sync, add a pinch of rock concert vibe and take it out of the oven before the timer goes off and you have the typical Rocky Horror shadow cast performance. Following this recipe, RKO gave a production true to the rawness and decadent spirit of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

What makes RKO’s production atypical, however, is the creative Disney twist added into the mix. It was not, however, the Disney with which most of us are familiar. It’s Disney gone raunchy, like a kind of Disney bedtime story told by drag queens and spanked with profanity between every other phrase. This was demonstrated in the pre show performance, where Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” was turned into an innuendo for things better left for SSIS to discuss.

Indeed, as the characters from the Rocky Horror universe are transformed into beloved Disney counterparts, the feel of the production becomes an amalgam of cartoonist fun and kinky hedonism. Following this atmosphere, the cast members were impressive with their commitment to bringing the characters of Rocky Horror alive. Also praiseworthy was RKO’s fun and witty Disney character casting for each of the Rocky Horror iconic characters. For example, the cast played off the initial innocence and naivety of Brad and Janet by portraying them as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, respectively. And who better to play Frank than the unapologetic—and unapologetically vain—the one and only Cruella De Vil? Magenta was portrayed as Alice and gave the impression of a girl who lost her mind along with a few articles of clothes, among other things, in Wonderland. If Magenta was Alice, then of course her brother would follow suit as the White Rabbit. Other characters included Wall-E as Dr. Scott, Buzz Lightyear as Eddie and Aladdin as Rocky Horror.

A cast that prefers to be known by its aliases, Lin-Z was notable as Dr. Frank-N-Furter who played off her Cruella De Vil inspiration to amplify the fiercely sinister and my-way-or-the-highway mentality of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Lin-Z was brilliant in the way she was able to evoke the larger-than-life personality of the mad, “sweet transvestite” scientist Frank, and in doing so donned black stilettos and fishnets the entire time. Another standout performer was Cassia, who played Jessie from Toy Story, as Columbia, a groupie in Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s eccentric entourage. Cassia mirrored the energy and playfulness in the character of Jessie in a way that heightened the spirited dimension of Columbia. Cassia gave it her all, as she screamed and tap-danced her way through the Time Warp and did not fail to impress the audience.

As a Rocky Horror virgin myself, I was quick to learn how interactive and colorfully offbeat midnight showings are. Cast members made the whole hall their stage by running through the aisles and occasionally finding a seat on the lap of an audience member. Furthermore, the audience was encouraged to participate throughout the show by shouting things at the screen—things that would make my Sunday school teachers reach for their rosaries. Admittedly, the constant banters shouted by the production cast at certain scenes were, although funny as a whole, very distracting at times. Even worse, these shouts were met with disapproval because of their offensive nature by the more serious members of the audience.

On top of this, audience members are also encouraged to dress up, as well as standing up for the show’s signature throw down, the “Time Warp.” Maybe best of all was the collection of items, within purchasable “sh!t bags” that audiences were invited to throw at each other at select scenes during the movie performance. The items ranged from toilet paper, sponges and even playing cards, but traditionally, audiences can also bring their own items—like food—to be tossed around. With that said, expect to get dirty, in more ways than one, at any showing.

It was a shame that the Rocky Horror Presentation fell under the shadow of the much-anticipated A-Trak concert. Nonetheless, those who did show up were not disappointed by the liveliness and exuberance of RKO production of The Rocky Horror Disney Picture Show. For new and endearing fans alike, the production excited and shocked, and begged the life question of simply: “Why not do it?”