@Claremont Arts & Media Culture

Dammit Janet, “Rocky Horror” is Back at It!

Ella Young ’24 and Belén Yudess ’25
Staff Writer and Copy Editor Intern

The 5Cs are doing the time warp again! The 5C production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is back for a second year, sponsored by 5C theater companies Spotlight and 5×5. The 1975 cult classic follows the journey of newlyweds Brad and Janet as they spend the night in a bizarre castle with a group of outrageous and mystical individuals. Alongside a screening of the film, the show features a shadow cast made up of various students from every campus, complete with acting, lip-syncing, and dancing. After a long hiatus, the show was revived by Eli Griffin PO ’23 and Abba Wilson PO ’23 as part of their senior thesis project. The cast and crew of this year’s production hope to continue to revamp the sin-sational tradition and follow the inspirational light that burns over at the Frankenstein’s place.

Although Rocky Horror is composed of an eclectic cast and crew, at the heart of the production lie director Aidan Trulove ’24 and stage manager/Spotlight technical director Ash Ahrenhoerster PO ’25.

Trulove was involved in last year’s production, acting as Dr. Frank-N-Furter and the narrator, but being a director is a new role for her, which she is excited to take on. “I knew that I needed to do something different this year,” she said. “I was hoping to bring the experience of someone who was in multiple showings and who got to work with all the different casts and all the lovely people who did it last year. Being a director has basically allowed me to oversee the actors and technicians and just make sure everyone is getting as much joy out of it that I was able to.”

As the director, Trulove is responsible for many decisions involving how to shadow cast the film. In addition to the cult classic’s famous songs and dance numbers, the film also includes many scenes and terms that can be outdated and uncomfortable for modern crowds to engage with. This includes several sexually charged scenes, violence, as well as callouts that may be distracting or off-putting. These challenges have encouraged Trulove and the rest of the crew to think of innovative ways to update aspects of the show while maintaining the show’s integrity.

“Being able to modernize [the show], because there are certain things in the original film that don’t hold up as well, is part of my role [as director],” she said. “My ultimate goal is to make sure people have fun, and that means making sure people are safe. I have a lot of experience with fight and intimacy choreography and I’ve really tried to bring that to the forefront of my directing. It’s my job to make sure that when we’re rehearsing, the actors feel safe, comfortable, and feel like they can say no because we’re not just trying to [exactly follow] the movie.”

Despite these modern updates, the cast and crew keep the tradition of Rocky Horror close in mind. This concerted effort encouraged Spotlight to take on the production.

“[Spotlight] decided to take on Rocky Horror this year, because it had been mostly propelled by the students who directed and stage managed it last year. It was one of their theses,” Ahrenhoerster said. “We wanted to keep the tradition going and we had the means to do it.”

This rich tradition goes beyond the bounds of the Claremont Colleges. Rocky Horror has been enduring in its appeal practically since 1975, specifically in queer communities. This history has especially influenced Trulove’s direction as she seeks to cultivate a welcoming and inclusive space for actors, crew, and audience.

“[Rocky Horror] is a production by and for queer people,” Trulove said. “That was really, really important for us to continue to emphasize. We said during auditions that a character can be more masc, more femme, or more androgynous than they’re actually presented on the screen, because we want to represent the identities of the actors we have. It’s meant to be a wonderful expressive space where almost nothing is off the table.”

Trulove also noted Rocky Horror’s groundbreaking significance in the queer community and how its fame and success continue to inspire queer audiences today. “I think with Rocky Horror specifically, it’s a form of media that for a lot of queer people is familiar,” she said. “Getting to do it themselves and put their own identities and their own twist on it really helps transform it from something familiar into something truly heartfelt and personal.”

Ahrenhoerster echoed these glowing sentiments, saying, “It’s fun. It’s campy. It’s interactive. It’s the most energetic theatrical production you may ever see,” he said. “It’s just a good night of art and queer people.”

Trulove wished to recognize the rest of her company for their dedication and the joy they bring to the space.

“The cast and crew of Rocky Horror have just been absolutely phenomenal,” she said. “Come see the show to celebrate all of their hard work.”

5C Students can see the production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Friday, Oct. 27 at 10:30 p.m. or Saturday, Oct. 28 at 11:59 p.m. at Seaver Labs, and students can follow their Instagram @rockyhorror5c to stay updated.

Image Source: Aidan Trulove ’24