“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” finds a snake in its boot

COVID gets in the way of Rocky Horror’s semesterly performance

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Rocky Horror Picture Show in the Red Door Cafe. // Photo courtesy of Piper Woods '23

Last semester’s performance of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” revived a long-standing tradition here at Muhlenberg. Performances of “Rocky” used to be an anticipated event every semester but it was all brought to a halt because of COVID. Last semester, these performances were revived by Cailyn Murray ‘23, Sandy McInerney ‘23 and Chloe Selover ‘22 with an amazing first performance of the school year during Halloween weekend with the circus-themed “Rocky Horror Big Top Show.” Now, the Rocky Horror Club is planning their follow-up performance for the spring semester, this time themed around cowboys, entitled the “Rocky Hoedown Picture Show.” The club was on track to perform this Friday, April 8th, but was brought to a screeching halt by a surge of COVID-19 cases that has been sweeping the Muhlenberg community in the last week. 

Cases have been springing up over the past few days following the College’s shift from required indoor masking with the transition from the Yellow Phase to the completely mask-optional Green Phase. Although cases were falling and Lehigh County moved into a “Low Transmission” level, it seems this small moment of relaxation gave way for cases to rise once again, leading the College to move back to the Yellow Phase the same Tuesday evening after the postponement was announced.

“And we are very lucky we still get to do it in May. We could have been told it was canceled, but we get another shot at it.”

– Charlotte Alexander ‘25

After the news of the postponement broke, “Rocky” cast member Anna Item ‘25 commented, “I was definitely sad about ‘Rocky’ being postponed because it’s so close to the performance that I was getting really excited. On the other hand, I’m happy that we’re making the responsible decision… It’s important to me that we make careful decisions and do what is safest for everybody… I would have felt anxious about cramming so many people into the Red Door for the performance, and it’s always nice to have more time to nail those dances!”

“I’m sad, I was really looking forward to it,” said newcomer to “Rocky” Charlotte Alexander ‘25.  “It’s better safe than sorry. Everyone’s health is paramount, and I’m glad steps were taken to ensure people’s safety. And we are very lucky we still get to do it in May. We could have been told it was canceled, but we get another shot at it. Either way, everyone’s safety is the most important thing, ‘Rocky’ or no ‘Rocky.’”

The tradition of “Rocky Horror” extends far outside Muhlenberg. Starting in 1975, with the release of the movie, an adaptation of the highly successful stage show, “The Rocky Horror Show.” Although the stage show was met with great critical success, the same cannot be said for the movie. The concept of “Rocky” started as a reference to old sci-fi and horror B-movies in the early days of Hollywood so the jump to the screen made perfect sense; however, the film faltered critically and financially, giving executives the idea to revive “Rocky” through midnight screenings. This turned out to be the perfect decision as following midnight screenings in New York, “Rocky” fever spread like wildfire, growing into a worldwide fanbase that still exists to this day, turning “Rocky” into a cult classic phenomenon. 

Performances of “Rocky” are sure to always be fun events. Traditionally, the screenings always begin around midnight with an audience of first-time viewers dubbed “Rocky Virgins” or veteran “Rocky” fans that may even go as far as to come in costume. Screenings are almost always accompanied by a shadow cast acting and lip syncing as the characters in front of the movie screen. This is then met with callbacks from the audience, making fun of characters or plot or making cultural references, setting the “Rocky” experience far from any typical movie viewing experience.

“‘Rocky’ Has been great this semester and continues to be a light in the darkness.

– Alena Craig ‘24

Item continued, talking about her love for “Rocky,” “It’s really nice to have a community where we can be silly and celebrate a movie that’s extremely gay and camp. It’s a very liberating, comfortable, low-stress environment and a great way to slowly get back into theatre after not acting for so long due to quarantine!”

Cast member June Tejada ‘22 commented, “I’m a little relieved because it’s a very busy week.”  This extension allows for better enjoyment of the performance for the cast members and audience. Tejada continued, “With the big band and choir performances this week, it’s kinda nice having a little time to breathe.”

Although the Rocky Horror Club has been working hard to put this performance on all semester, this isn’t the end. The cast will continue to practice and overcome any challenges they face as more info about the COVID outbreak comes in. 
Another cast member, Alena Craig ‘24, had a positive outlook, “‘Rocky’ has been great this semester and continues to be a light in the darkness. It is too bad that it is being moved, but I think more people will be able to see it on May 6.”

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