Touch-a Touch Me

Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild brings cult film to life

Trevor Kupfer, photos by Hanna Agar |

Astute Catholic schoolgoers recall that time began with “Let there be light.” But those that sought education from a certain midnight picture show insist that it began with “Let there be lips.” And when Sept. 5 rolls around, you can bet that those time-warped cultists (myself included) will be rousing up their friends, some fishnets, and high-heel pumps for yet another lesson, as the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild presents The Rocky Horror Show.

“It’s going to be a great show and people need to get tickets early because we’re expecting a really strong draw,” director Keith Lorasch said.

The high-energy stage performance comes from Richard O’Brien’s infamous stage show, which started in London in the early ’70s and famously spawned the 1975 film with Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Meat Loaf. It quickly drew a cult following, both on Broadway and at midnight cinema showings – most famously Milwaukee’s Oriental Theatre, which continues its longest-running interactive screenings monthly.

The possibility of a local production came up several years ago, but some guild members voiced concern about the show’s content, given the organization’s track record with family-friendly performances. “Some thought it might be a little bit risky,” said Lorasch, who has directed seven shows with CVTG since 1992. “It’s not the typical show that season ticket holders come and see.” But after a few board members caught a production in the Twin Cities, CVTG decided to give it a shot and possibly diversify its audience base.

When word got out, one of the 14 cast members began “campaigning” to get a role as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who she has shadowed at UW-Eau Claire’s screenings since 1995.

    “The movie definitely had a profound impact on my teenage years,” Miss Dee-Lovely said. “And that’s how I got my start in the art of female impersonation. ... I’m kind of at a loss for words because I’m still so excited to be a part of it.”

Lorasch said the success of the show largely depends on the cast, and this one is “the highest energy cast I’ve worked with yet” and there’s “not a weak singer in the bunch.”

Though she has experience mimicking Tim Curry, Miss Dee-Lovely said Lorasch purposely tried to separate this production from previous ones and bring the audience into a whole new experience. “There are homages to the film,” she said, citing the bright pair of lips during “Science Fiction Double Feature”, “but the look and feel is quite different.”

To appease those dedicated viewers, however, the cast and crew are encouraging interactive elements. The cast, for instance, has been rehearsing to deal with people screaming responses like those at the film screenings. Lorasch added that they’re going to sell kits of items to use during the show, such as party poppers, newspapers, water pistols, flashlights, or confetti. The icing on the cake is that the Sept. 6 show will be held at midnight, and the word on the street is that many viewers plan to show up in costume.

So, come up to the lab. And see what’s on the slab. I see you shiver, with antici ... pation.

    The Rocky Horror Show. Sept. 5, 12, and 13 at 7:30pm, and Saturday, Sept. 6 at 11:59pm at the Grand Little Theatre, 102 W. Grand Ave. $10 for students and $18 for adults. 832-7529.