Belen Yudess ’25
Social Media Manager
Hot patootie, bless my soul, I really love the 5C production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show! The musical, which featured a new cast each night, ran from Oct. 28 to Oct. 29 with another showing scheduled for Dec. 3. The 1970’s hit is centered around sexual liberation and gender expression, and includes catchy, well-known songs such as “Time Warp” and “Sweet Transvestite.” The show included the use of a shadow-cast, meaning that while the movie played in the background, the actors would lip-sync and perform their respective characters live on stage. From the electrifying performances of the cast and their hilarious intertwinement of audience participation, this rendering of Rocky Horror will leave you wanting more, more, more, more!
Rocky Horror has the ability to connect to people, whether they’re a long time fan or eager virgin (the affectionate name for those who have never seen the live performance). “It’s a show that brings people together,” said Aidan Trulove ’24, who played Frank N’ Furter on the Oct. 29 show. “It also is a very queer space and as someone who identifies in that way, I have never really gotten to do a show before that leaned so heavily into queer identities. Especially not one from the 1970s. I was [also] hoping to meet people who shared certain aspects of my identity or who could understand each other over our identities. And I feel like I definitely did that.”
After being cast as Frank, Trulove was very thankful for the opportunity, but she was also nervous about playing such an iconic character. “I was freaking out a little because I realized who Frank was, and I was like, that’s going to be a lot. So I was a little intimidated when I was first coming into the rehearsal space,” she said. “However, the directors were so incredibly kind and so incredibly welcoming and they made sure from day one that we understood this process was going to be entirely up to us. That was the biggest part of this process for me was that I was made to feel very safe. Everyone had a voice, everyone could express their wants and needs. It became less and less intimidating as the process continued to the point where I wasn’t even super nervous about performing.” Although she was initially apprehensive about the role, Trulove’s vivid facial expressions and overall theatricality while playing Frank made her performance illuminate the stage — just like the light over at the Frankenstein’s place!
Rocky Horror was revolutionary for its time due to its transparency and positive outlook on both heterosexual and queer sex. A lot of the important (and Frank-ly most entertaining) scenes revolve around sex. Therefore, when blocking these parts, the directors paid extra attention to ensuring that the actors felt safe and supported. “A good third of all of the intimacy rehearsals were spent with the actors getting to know each other and getting comfortable in each other’s space. And then the rest of the time was very slowly blocking one thing at a time, one motion at a time. Then we’d practice it four or five times at the end to make sure we knew the choreography,” said Trulove. “But also it was adaptable. If someone said later in rehearsal that they didn’t want to do this anymore, we cut it. The directors were extremely understanding and they never pushed us [to do something we were uncomfortable doing].”
Similar conversations about comfort levels were held when discussing some of the outdated language of the script (such as the word Transvestite), and a few of the cruder comments used throughout the audience call-outs. “I think one of the things that made it a little bit more comfortable was having a heavily queer cast. I’m not going to say every person was queer, but a lot of that space is meant for [queer individuals],” said Trulove. “The directors [I think successfully] fostered a dialogue that was extremely queer friendly and that was driven by people who identified with those labels. So we worried less about that language [like Transvestite] and more about language like slut, like calling Janet a slut every time she comes on stage. It was learning not to associate that language with the actors themselves, and keeping them separate.”
Although this show required several weeks of long and extensive rehearsals, all the casts’ and crews’ hard work paid off, with the show becoming the highlight of Halloweekend. “They had sent us to go recruit people to come. This was a plan all along where we would have actors out there saying, ‘Hey, come see Rocky Horror at this point in time at this location,” said Trulove. “And then I got back to the theater, put on the rest of my costume and then just there’s 600 people outside.” This outstanding turnout will hopefully allow Rocky Horror productions to be a recurring event at the 5Cs!
Not only was Trulove thrilled by the audience’s energy in the packed house, she also recognized the importance of this show’s implications and message on a broader scale as well as in the 5C community. “It’s truly an early catalyst of queer representation,” she said. “It’s such an iconic movie and it’s such a staple. Like Frank N’ Furter was the first time I ever saw a drag queen, even though I hadn’t seen the whole movie. But that’s a lot of people’s first connection with sexuality and with gender expression. I think it’s important to keep telling that story or keep examining it from new angles at the very least because it has become a part of queer history and queer culture.”
For updates on future productions, such as the one on Dec. 3, follow @rockyhorror5c on Instagram.
Image Source: IMDb