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“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” rocks Lawrence campus

The Lawrence cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show reenact a scene from the movie.
Photo by Emily Midyette

“And God said, ‘Let there be lips!’” Those words, shouted out by many audience members in unison provided an indication that Lawrence’s annual showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was about to begin. Last week, on Friday at midnight and on Saturday at 8 p.m. and midnight, students lined up outside of the cinema in anticipation of the show ahead. Many students dressed up for the occasion or simply wore their Halloween costumes. Attendees were greeted at the door by student cast members who marked them with either a “V” for “virgin” or an “M” for “masturbator.”

“When it comes to Rocky Horror, there are two groups of people in the audience,” said freshman Chris Follina, who is a long-time Rocky Horror fan and who attended the show on Saturday. “Virgins, who have never seen the show before, and masturbators, who have seen the show at least once before, likely multiple times. If you’re a virgin, you’re strongly encouraged to partake in a virgin ritual.” The virgin rituals vary depending on the theater and showing. This year at Lawrence it involved a fake orgasm contest.

After the initiation ritual and a brief introduction, the movie started amid much applause. Lawrence’s unique brand of Rocky Horror is a combination of a showing of the movie with live actors performing the show alongside it. Auditions were held earlier in the term for the parts, and the cast and crew have spent the time since then rehearsing and promoting the show with posters around campus and a surprise visit to the Commons in full costume.

One aspect of Rocky Horror screenings that sets it apart from other films is the audience participation. Not long after the film opened in the U.S., it became common practice for viewers to “talk back” to the movie, and since then many audience participation scripts have evolved. The lines vary based on location and other aspects, but most scripts include a combination of puns, vulgar jokes and pop culture references. Lawrence’s screening was no exception to the audience participation tradition. Students yelled various comments and jokes out at regular intervals and sang along with the musical numbers. During “The Time Warp,” the whole audience stood and danced along.

Despite the distraction created by such an involved audience, the performance went smoothly, according to cast members. “You’d think that it would be difficult to focus, especially with some of the more hilarious call-lines, but I love feeding off of the energy of the audience!” commented junior Elliott Dryjanski, who played the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter this year. “The more raucous the audience, the better the show!”

Dryjanski has been involved in Rocky Horror performances since their first year at Lawrence. “My freshman year I was an extra and last year I played Janet!” Dryjanski said. “This year I finally got my dream role and I had the time of my life. We had an amazing cast this year, and I wouldn’t have missed doing it for the world.”