By Emily Cole
It’s just a jump to the left and a step to Tremont Street to see “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the AMC – all that is needed are a pair of gold shorts and some toilet paper.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was released on Aug. 14, 1975 in the United Kingdom, then in Los Angeles the following Sept. It stars Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon as the newly engaged Brad and Janet. They stumble upon the castle of a scientist named Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) who has recently discovered how to create life itself in the form of a genetically and aesthetically perfect lover, Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood.)
At the time of its release, the movie was a flop. It was soon withdrawn from the original eight cities it aired in because of small audiences. It was not until roughly five months after the movie premiered that it gained a small cult following, thanks to the audience responding to the dialogue in the movie and the midnight showings.
Midnight showings have continued for the last 42 years. In that time costumes and audience props have been introduced, and many showings now have a shadow cast, or a cast of actors that act out the entire movie underneath the screen. At the AMC Loews Boston Common 19, The Full Body Cast turns a movie into a production with lighting, costumes, set pieces and a full pre-movie show.
“The shadow casting experience, and the theater experience in general, is special because it is sort of like having a theater full of friends with the same inside jokes… when you see [The Rocky Horror Picture Show,] you yell jokes and puns and insults at the screen with a room full of people who know the same responses,” said attendee Teresa Ellen Easterbrooks.
The Full Body Cast is one of the longest running casts in New England, beginning in April of 1984. For over 20 years they performed at the Harvard Square Theater in Cambridge, but have since then relocated to the AMC in Downtown Boston. Its rotating cast features over 50 actors and almost 30 crewmembers who work to make the show come to life.
“The cast itself, although it rotates, is always spectacular. Every time I’ve seen the show they’ve had it down to a science, and knowing that this troupe has been around for decades really makes me value the dedicated fans of “Rocky Horror” that are keeping the show alive,” said previous attendee Melina List.
Shows occur every Saturday night at 11 p.m. with extra showings for Halloween. As audience members enter the theater, many purchase bags of props for certain scenes and lines of the movie. These include newspapers when Janet uses one to shield herself from the rain, and party hats to wear during a scene later in the movie where the meal, to the horror of Janet, Brad and Dr. Scott (Jonathan Adams,) is the previously murdered Eddie (Meat Loaf.)
Right before entering the theater, many first-time attendees have a red “V” drawn on their forehead or cheek to indicate that they are “Rocky Virgins.” Before the movie starts, many of these “virgins” are invited down to the front of the theater to dance and compete to be part of the shadow cast during the opening scene. Due to the raunchy and uncensored nature of the film and theater experience, this helps newcomers to feel welcome.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” invites attendees to enter an environment without judgment or boundaries, which many find to be the most inviting and exciting aspect.
“I also love [The Rocky Horror Picture Show] because it’s a space that is so different from my normal life – I wear different clothes, am proud of my ability to launch toilet paper across a room, use stronger language than I do everyday, and overall feel more confident, more rebellious, and more independent than I do outside of that theater,” said Easterbrooks.
If seeing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is intriguing, there is no need to shiver with anticipation. The Full Body Cast performs along with a showing of the movie at 11 p.m. every Saturday year-round at the AMC Loews Boston Common 19. Tickets and more information are available on its website http://www.fullbodycast.com.