With the help of the Sincerely Lusting Castle Transylvanians, W.T. Woodson High School junior Dave Maley started a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” revival last weekend in the spirit of the costumed theatrics that catered to the late-night movie fans in the late 1970s.
"I'm a fan of the movie," Dave said. "I'm in high-school theater."
With the help of the Internet, Dave Maley located a “Rocky Horror” troupe, complete with a Frank-n-Furter character, costumes, props and the desire to recreate the enthusiasm that propelled the movie to cult stardom 25 years ago. Glenn Marker is part of the Transylvanians. He plays Meatloaf, Eddie and Dr. Scott. He's one of the only veterans from the days when the State Theater in Georgetown time-warped through a weekend-after-weekend run of “Rocky Horror.” The troupe hopes to run it at the University Theater a few weeks if not months, as well.
"I started 19 years ago, the whole chain [State Theaters] ran it," said Marker, claiming to have seen the movie in theaters over 1,200 times and participated in it over 800 times. "Participating" means dressing up, mimicking the film actors in front of the audience while the movie is rolling.
On its first weekend, May 30-31, the film attracted 88 people the first night and 102 the second night, which is a big crowd by University Theater standards. Some people who were there on Friday came back on Saturday, more prepared. On Friday, Dave noticed, movie-goers weren't prepared for the singing and theatrics of a “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
"The first night, nobody knew what to do," Dave said. "The entire cast is coming back next week."
Theater owner Mark O'Meara even stayed longer than anticipated on the first night. He also took part in the singing that went along with the show.
THE BASIC PREMISE of “Rocky Horror” is a classic horror movie spoof in which Brad, played by Berry Boswick, and Janet, played by Susan Sarandon, get caught in a thunderstorm when their car breaks down. The only house around is a stereotypical haunted house on a hill. Once inside, the couple runs into a cast of characters including Frank-n-Furter, played by Tim Curry, and Riff-Raff, Rocky and Eddie, among others. The movie and its subsequent cult status proved to be a big boost for Sarandon's and Curry's careers.
Song and theatrics are intertwined and audience members "in the know" toss props like toast and rice, and shoot squirt guns as they become part of the story. Meanwhile, the Transylvanians in costume act certain parts out. While the troupe members call themselves "Transylvanians," it's also a name for the party crowd and wedding guests in the film.
The Transylvanians come with an instruction sheet with a list of rules, which include "No explosives," Rule No. 1; followed by no throwing stuff at the screen or cast; no rice, water or things that go squish; instructions to stay out of the aisles; and "Most of all, have fun, be loud, and please come again and again."
The Transylvanians describe themselves on the brochure as "a completely crazy cast who love performing ‘Rocky.’" They are all friends as well.
"‘Rocky Horror’ really brought us together. It really helped me find my self-confidence. Two of our cast members actually got married, they knew each other through the national scene," said castmember Kate Davis, 22.
THE CHRONOLOGY on the Transylvanians’ Web site dates back to the early 1990s, with performances at theaters in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Locations included Visions Theater, Glen Burnie 7, Towson Dinner Theatre, Towson Commons, and Security Square General Cinema, in Maryland in 1995. The troupe also traveled to Albany, N.Y., and the “Rocky Horror” Convention in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s.
Dave Maley is an employee of University Theater in University Mall on Braddock Road. He brought the idea of jumpstarting the “Rocky Horror” culture for a midnight showing every Friday and Saturday night to see if it can create the cult following it once had. Theater manager Dave Collings was open to the idea but had some reservations about the theater becoming a mess or the screen getting messed up. He went for it anyway.
"As much tension as we've had in the last couple of years, people need a chance to get crazy," he said.
"I was born after it was popular," Davis said. "When I was 16, I went to check it out at the local theater," Davis sports a gold glitter dress during the show.
Cast member Amy Wilder is a Sterling resident and mother of an 8-year-old. She had a confession from her younger days as well.
"I had to climb out a window and down a tree to see it," she said.
Opening weekend, people came prepared, and the theater did have more than the typical spilled popcorn to clean up, but Dave said it wasn't much of a problem.
"There was toast, playing cards, toilet paper and of course popcorn, but it wasn't that bad," he said.