Friday, March 21, 2014

'Rocky Horror' never dies

Should you attend the Mad Monster Party this weekend, you may see a band of Charlotteans enacting the timeless ritual of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." I first ran into the local cast, which bills itself as That Type, at CrownPoint Cinemas three summers ago, interpreting the characters who were onscreen behind them at a midnight showing.

They have since moved to Cinebarre at the Arboretum, but their crowning glory will come Saturday, when they perform for Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn and Little Nell -- all members of the cast of the 1975 movie -- live at midnight at Mad Monster. Randal Chou, co-founder and director of That Type's interpretation, told me "We're even breaking even as an all-volunteer cast, which is almost unheard of in the 'Rocky' world."

If you're comfortable watching a whole movie on your computer, you'll find "Rocky" here. (I think you'd enjoy it more on a screen at least the size of a decent TV.) What makes re-enactments special are the facts that 1) Everyone in the audience knows all the lines and shouts many of them out, often with scabrous amendments and additions and 2) Props are involved. If someone in the film proposes a toast, slices of bread come a-flying. (My favorite That Type innovation: The criminologist, embodied onscreen by Shakespearean actor Charles Gray, was represented in the re-enactment by an "Avenue Q"-like puppet.)

This concept has been passed from generation to generation. The Queens University theater department is re-enacting the film this weekend in Hadley Theater. That event is billed, aptly, as a "campy, sloppy salute to horror movies and sexual liberation."

When the cult classic film has its 40th U.S. anniversary next year -- on September 26, the day it began an unsuccessful run in Los Angeles -- we might even see a traditional big-screen re-release. I've enjoyed it with re-enactors and without, and I think everybody should sample it both ways.