October has finally arrived, and in its entourage it brings the early signs and omens of Halloween. Changing leaves, crisp autumn breezes, abundant pumpkins and shortening days will, for many, act as a kind of preamble to ghosts and goblins, trick-or-treating and things that go “bump” in the night.
In the Wood River Valley, one of the surest signs of the looming holiday is that tickets have now gone on sale for The Spot’s annual performance of the cult musical classic, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
“It’s something we’re working on all month leading up to Halloween. It makes Halloween feel like Thanksgiving, something you look forward to and prepare for with your ‘family,’” said Natalie Battistone, The Spot’s creative director of marketing.
So, put your hands on your hips and take a jump to the left, because there’s a light on over at the Frankenstein place and—dammit, Janet—the season is upon us to do the Time Warp again.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” debuted on stage in London’s prestigious West End in 1973. Written—music, lyrics, dialogue and all—by and co-starring Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff (really the best part), the original play boasted a strong cap, including Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell and Tim Curry as the “sweet transvestite” Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
The play was an unprecedented box office and critical success, soon travelling across the Atlantic to Broadway and then, come 1975, transitioning to the silver screen. O’Brien, Curry, Campbell and Quinn reprised their roles, now joining Charles Gray, Barry Bostwick, a young Susan Sarandon and the incomparable Meat Loaf.
The Spot’s upcoming production—the fifth time the Ketchum company has mounted it—stars Peter Burke as Frank-N-Furter, Aly Wepplo as Janet, Kevin Wade as Brad, Brett Moellenberg as Riff-Raff, Yanna Lantz as Magenta, Kayla Hanson as Columbia, Noah Koski as Dr. Everett V. Scott, Rachel Aanestad as Eddie, Kagen Albright as The Criminologist and Alec England as Rocky.
With performances every year, one may ponder whether The Spot can keep the show fresh and exciting each time, but Brett Moellenberg and Yanna Lantz believe this is part of the innate beauty of the musical.
“I think it is the energy from the crowd that keeps us going,” Moellenberg said. “Performing ‘Rocky Horror’ for me is about the audience experience and creating an atmosphere where people can really let it all go.”
Lantz echoed Moellenberg’s sentiments, recollecting her own first encounter with the musical: “I was 14 when I first saw ‘Rocky’ in Harvard Square, Boston, and it was like a ton of bricks hit me in the face. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before—everyone was so carefree and willing to let their freak flag fly. I knew I would return again, and again, and again and again.”
This immensely popular musical will set the stage for Halloween, kicking off its limited, three-night run exactly one week before witches and vampires take to the streets, on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 9 p.m.
Two performances will follow on Friday—at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.—and for those who, like iconic ’70s singer Meat Loaf, were wondering “what ever happened to Saturday night?” The Spot has the answer: Saturday night became the designated conclusion for the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at The Spot at 10 p.m.
Across the three evenings, The Spot will present a total of five performances, each performed in sync with a screening of the 1975 film. The fifth is set for earlier in the evening on Saturday, at 6:30 p.m. This performance is for students only. Audience members must be under 21 (but still older than 12) to enter. This performance will have much of the sex and violence removed and candy will be provided.
All other performances are strictly for adults only—21 and older, IDs required—and are B.Y.O.B. events.
Tickets are on sale now at spotsunvalley.com, and are expected to disappear quickly. In past “Rocky Horror” productions, The Spot has enjoyed consistently full-house audiences, and back in July at a fundraiser event when the core company members formally announced that the counterculture classic would return in 2019, a palpable wave of excitement overtook those in attendance.
As the song goes, “I see you shiver with antici-“pation.”
For those who manage to procure tickets—$35 for standard admission, $20 for the under-21 show—costumes are encouraged. Sweet transvestites, space invaders, sinister hunchbacks, grungy bikers, glamorous tap-dancers, buttoned-up straight-laced squares, stuffy old professors and impossibly chiseled young men in golden speedos are all welcome at The Spot for “Rocky Horror.” It’s a weird play.
That is not to imply that any of those above-listed demographics would ever not be welcome. The theater’s proud objective is to promote accessibility, and one of its prominent slogans is the hashtag “All Are Welcome.”
“At The Spot, we are in the business of inspiring people to honor, celebrate and respect who they are and to find ways in which they’re inspired to express that essence,” Battistone said. “The relevance [of the show] for contemporary audiences is in Frank-N-Furter’s assertion, ‘Don’t dream it. Be it.’”
Peter Burke believes that this play more than others, with the way it encourages audience involvement, is an ideal piece for the promotion of those ideals.
“With this production, we are always trying to create an immersive experience—one that engages the audience on every sensory level. We invite you to dress up, sing, dance, throw toast and lose yourself in Transylvania,” he said.
“Throw toast” refers to the prop bags handed out to the audience for those who want to participate.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” supports The Spot’s mission in clinical fashion, celebrating marginalized groups, individuality and sexual freedom, which is part of why it has become an enduring classic.
Of course, that positivity is masked in a fair amount of murder, kidnapping, rape and cannibalism, among other crimes against humanity, but the songs are just so catchy.
At times when we can all feel a little “lost in time, lost in space … and meaning,” nothing provides quite as a good a pick-me-up as a cult musical horror comedy from the ’70s.