Rocky Horror returns to Lawrence

Image from a “Rocky Horror” shadow cast rehearsal, submitted with the consent of the performers. Photos submitted by “Rocky Horror” Director Dani Massey.

The “Rocky Horror Picture Show” shadow cast production is back at Lawrence on Oct. 30, at 12:01 a.m., 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. in the cinema at the Warch Campus Center.  

“Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a 1975 movie that has been adapted into a shadow cast production, in which the movie is played in the background while the actors perform in front of the screen and interact with the audience. The extras, or “sextras,” stand on the sides and chant call lines at the screen. The shadow cast production has been a tradition at Lawrence since the ‘80s.  

Junior Callie Greene, the Props Master, said that there will be restrictions in place to ensure that “Rocky Horror Picture Show” doesn’t become a superspreader event. All cast and audience members are required to wear a mask, only Lawrence students can attend, and there is a capacity limit in the cinema of 140 people. Students who wish to attend are encouraged to bring a school ID and arrive about 30 minutes early. 

According to Director Dani Massey, a senior, Campus Safety will be at the show to enforce COVID-19 restrictions and ensure no one from outside the school or with an active COVID-19 case is able to attend. Massey also said that participants are encouraged, though not mandated, to be sober at the show, in order to reduce confusion around the rules.  

The cast and crew are taking COVID-19 very seriously, according to Massey, and the cast is tested regularly. The show is important enough to put on, according to Draper, even if there is some risk, because it’s impactful and life-changing for young queer people to see, and seeing it last year wasn’t an option.  

The shadow cast production of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” has always been something that’s attracted the queer community, said junior Abby Draper, a lead actor in the shadow cast. Sophomore Zhanna Weil added that it’s been a tradition among anyone who’s been an outcast, and Draper said that watching the movie was the first time they saw someone dressing in gender-nonconforming clothing. Others, like actor and first-year Silas O’Connell, feel like being part of this cast provides a queer-affirming space.  

“As a queer person, it’s my first time being able to have a welcoming community,” O’Connell said.  

Part of the show is interaction with the audience, such as touching or lap dances, but students are encouraged to say no if they do not wish to be interacted with. There will be a Consent Team to reduce unwanted interactions as much as possible. Members of the Consent Team will be wearing identifying shirts and can be spoken to at any point during the production. They will be there to intervene and will also be collaborating with Campus Safety.  

Even though the production is an important piece of art in the queer community, Greene said, straight and cisgender people are encouraged to come. Greene, one of the straight and cisgender students in the production, said that, as someone with queer friends and family members, it’s important for straight people to be in undeniably queer spaces, and not just be tolerant from a distance.