Zoya Uzzaman | December 10, 2018
On October 26th and 27th, students at University of Michigan put on a shadow cast production of Rocky Horror Picture Show. A shadow cast consists of a group of actors syncing their words and actions with a film projected behind them. Audience members called out jokes and questions that came to mind while they were watching, which is a practice unique to Rocky Horror Picture Show. The show featured Greenhills alumni Maria LoCicero (‘17) and Alec Bayoneto (‘18), and was a hit among its viewers.
Rocky Horror is a unique piece of theater in many ways. It started as a movie that came out on September 25th, 1975, with “normal” characters like Brad and Janet, engaged sweethearts, whose roles emphasize how absolutely average they are, and more eccentric characters like Frank N. Furter, self-declared “sweet transvestite” and mad scientist, along with a strangely dressed ensemble. The duality of the U of M students’ individual interpretations of the show paired with the official movie made for an interesting viewing experience.
Shadow cast is not the only way the show can be performed, though. The movie can serve as a standalone film or the script can be performed as an onstage musical without the movie directly involved at all. The multiple methods of performance add to the uniqueness of Rocky Horror.
However, there have been debates about the morality of Rocky Horror. Some wonder whether it’s the kind of show that can, or should, still be appreciated, especially by those in the LGBTQ+ community. The show uses language that is now considered offensive toward cross-dressers: particularly men who enjoy dressing up as women. Frank N. Furter is categorized as one such character. He is also heavily implied to be homosexual, and he is a character who commits unforgivable acts, like forcing himself upon both Janet and Brad at different times. A trying character in and of itself isn’t necessarily problematic. But when this type of character identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and participates in negative activities associated with said community, like sexual deviancy, manipulation and corruption, they further reinforce those stereotypes. Before creating villainous LGBTQ+ characters, we need characters who don’t demonize those who fall under the umbrella of LGBTQ+. While many people love the eccentric nature of Rocky Horror, others think it’s the kind of show that is best left in the past.
Rocky Horror Picture Show is not appropriate for school; as such, I can not encourage its viewing in a school paper. However, I do encourage people to research both sides of the argument and make a judgement of their own.