Is There a Light for the Future of UMF’s Rocky Horror Picture Show?
Portia Hardy Contributing Writer
The beloved UMF “Rocky Horror Picture Show” shadowcast is in danger of disappearing due to a lack of Student Senate Spring Fling funding. Head director, senior Chloe Woodward, and her directing team are fighting to surpass financial obstacles for at least one more show this spring.
“Rocky Horror might not happen next year,” said Woodard. “We have always received funding through the Spring Fling senate funding. [But] there is no Spring fling, that is confirmed.”
Choreographer Alexis Ramee, a junior, is concerned for the show’s usual charitable donations and new monetary stress placed on the cast. “. . .everything we raised as a group went straight to SAPARS (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services),” she said in an email interview. “Now that there is no Spring Fling any more, we, as a whole group, have to come together to raise money so we can get the costumes and props we need for the show.”
Woodward said cast members have had to dip into their own personal funds for supplies. “I’ve already spent over 200 dollars on getting to start the show. The cut of funding might mean that there is no more Rocky.”
Rocky Horror has been shown at UMF for about 10 years now as a shadowcast, where actors and dancers perform on stage with the movie playing on screen behind them. Shadowcast origins trace back to the film’s release in the 1970’s, as does its reputation as a cult-classic.
“Rocky Horror is a movie that was made in the 70’s that didn’t do good at all when first released so they then moved it to the midnight showings,” Ramee said in her email, disclosing a brief history of the show. “By doing that only a select few people could even watch it but it was those people that got stuck on it. That’s how the ‘cult’ part all started,” she said. “It influences today’s viewers because a lot of us go in knowing what the call lines are or even what the purpose of the movie as a whole was. Even people who haven’t seen it or haven’t immersed themselves within this culture come out of the woodworks to see the UMF production. The cast members are the audience members as well.”
Senior Darby Murnane has been involved with Rocky for three years now, playing lead roles like Janet and Frank-N-Furter. This year, on the directing team, her current title is “Helping Princess,” she said.
“[Rocky] is an erotizised paradody of ‘Frankenstein,’ in which our Dr. Frank-N-Furter, our Frankenstein copy, is building himself a lover instead of a monster, and the deep subplot is he’s going to build multiple lovers and sell them off for profit,” said Murnane.
The show is unique for the audience participation in call-lines, developed by early audiences who saw midnight showings on a regular basis. The audience often yells, “Asshole!” and “Slut!” at characters Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple.
The plot follows Brad and Janet as they stumble across Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s mansion one dark night looking for a telephone to use, “and then everything goes wrong,” Murnane explains.
The show’s rich history of traditions is the cast’s responsibility to uphold. “It carries a lot of weight, the call lines created a forced interaction and participation with the film,” Murnane said. “It’s not really a zone-out show, because there’s so much happening, you really have to be in on it. It’s primarily a cult of the LGBTQ community and the torch gets passed along from cast to cast to uphold the culture there.”
Ramee and Murnane hold out hope that someone will take over the show to keep it alive on campus next year. “I do hope a club will come and start doing Rocky. It will be very sad to see it end. But if this is the end, then you should be damn sure we are going out with a bang,” Ramee wrote.
The directors are prioritizing the survival of the family-oriented nature of the cast. “The Rocky cast really is a family for the people that are in it and I would like to see that continued for people who really need that in the way that I needed it and still do. I found Rocky when I was struggling and it saved my life in more ways than one,” Murnane said.
In Woodward’s time as assistant director and now leader, she’s seen what the Rocky family means. “There’s been so many people that come up to me after the show and say, ‘Wow, you guys really helped me through all these hard times,’” she said. “One of our biggest things is consent, it really helps people who have struggled with sexual assault.”
“It’s a day where people can just be themselves without fear of judgment or cruelty,” said Ramee.
Those interested in helping can donate to the cast or Woodward’s GoFundMe page.