Oh, the Horror (Show)

ECCT encourages participation at Rocky Horror show

Emily Kinzel, photos by Andrea Paulseth

WE’RE TREMBLING WITH ANTICI ... Join Dr. Frank N. Furter and newlyweds Brad and Janet for the campy, comic romp The Rocky Horror Show ... PATION.
WE’RE TREMBLING WITH ANTICI ... Join Dr. Frank N. Furter and newlyweds Brad and Janet for the campy, comic romp The Rocky Horror Show ... PATION.

When I say “Rocky,” you say “Horror!” Don your best fishnets, squeeze into some gold booty shorts, and break out those binding bustiers to embrace your inner “Sweet Transvestite.” The Eau Claire Children’s Theatre is producing a campy classic, The Rocky Horror Show, which opens Oct. 19 at the Oxford Theatre. Attendees are encouraged to sing along, dress as their favorite characters, and get ready to go on a strange journey. Goody bags filled with props will also be available to audience members to participate in the quirky theatrical experience.

The story begins with a young couple stranded by a rainstorm and forced to enter a strange castle hosting an eccentric party for the unveiling of Dr. Frank N. Furter’s latest creation, Rocky Horror: the man who gives ultimate pleasure. The couple soon realizes this is no ordinary night, as they are introduced to a band of Transylvanians and their leader, a murderous, transsexual mad scientist and part-time seductress. To top it all off, the musical incorporates purposefully cheesy rock ’n’ roll inspired songs with science fiction and horror tropes from the 1930s. What else could you ask for?

Rocky Horror hasn’t been produced in Eau Claire for about 10 years, according to Wayne Marek, who is directing the production. The theater tries to produce shows targeted at audiences of all age groups each season. Plus, it’s just doesn’t feel like fall without Rocky, Marek said.

“I’m hoping the Halloween season will encourage more people to dress up for (The Rocky Horror Show),” said Brandon Litwiller, who plays Rocky. “I want to see their costumes!”

Joe Burger (Brad) agrees. “The costumes in this show are so much like Halloween,” he said. “It’s not attire that in any circumstance that you would ever wear, and that’s what’s fun about them. But (the fact) the audience has the want and need to come to this show dressed up as these characters is a really cool and immersing experience.”

The cast’s commentary was informative and unexpectedly heartwarming. It was important to them not only to convey the direction of the musical, but also to emphasize the deeper message within the sarcasm and sass.

The 1975 film version of the musical turned the Rocky Horror Show performance into the cult classic it is today. The film drew attention to the inclusive performance, catering to a wide audience and accepting everyone for their authentic self. It was truly revolutionary as a quirky, sometimes outrageous film with meaningful undertones. Sarah Hewitt (Columbia) admits that at points throughout the musical, she finds herself choking up a bit. “I think when it first came out, it really brought a lot of people together who didn’t fit the cookie cutter mold,” AJ Haut (Eddie) explained.

The cast wants to embody this message during renditions of Rocky Horror. Come one, come all to do the “Timewarp” again!

Audience participation is highly encouraged at the performance. Cast members are excited for the incorporation of callbacks (audience responses to lines in the show), audience prop usage, and to see who’s brave enough to dress as the provocative Frank N. Furter. 

Start memorizing the script to belt out “Don’t Dream It, Be It,” or “Bullwinkle!” at the appropriate times. (Look online for inspiration.)

“There’s a callback for almost every single line in the show,” Haut said. “Some are more famous than others, of course, but it’s funny to see which lines get pulled out at what time.”

The cast members give Chippewa Valley residents some friendly advice for the Rocky Horror season: Take the courage to be yourself. They’ll see you at the show, fully dressed in Rocky attire. Get creative!

The Rocky Horror Show • 7:30pm Oct. 19, 21, 26, 27, and 28 • 11:59pm Oct. 20 • Admission: $14 students, $20 seniors, $22 adults • tickets available online at ecct.org or by calling (715) 839-8877 • rated PG-13