The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, located at the corner of 14th and Main streets, held its first 2015 late-night showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 31.
The Alamo Drafthouse has gained the reputation of delivering a truly unique cinematic experience. It only makes sense that it would be the theater to host the late-night-sing-dance-quote-heckle-athon for the rambunctious group that is the Rocky Horror cult following.
For those who somehow still remain sheltered, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a British-American musical comedy horror film directed by Jim Sharman. The film is based on the musical stage production of “The Rocky Horror Show” written by Richard O’Brien in 1973 as an homage to science fiction and B-horror films from the 1930s. The stage production was a hit when it opened in London. However, it did not have the same impact when it debuted on Broadway in the U.S., closing after only 45 showings.
The intent of the film release was to reignite the flame that was doused when the production crossed the pond. Sharman cast a young Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick, as well as Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Meat Loaf, and Richard O’Brien. Nevertheless, the film only managed to gain notoriety as a “midnight movie” in 1976. Patrons of the Waverly Theater in New York City began participating with the film, quoting along and shouting snarky responses at the screen. Audience members continued this participation and soon started attending screenings dressed as characters from the film.
The Alamo Drafthouse’s Action Pack team presented “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” complete with prop bags and the Kansas City Shadowcast team Fishnets and Floorshows — they act out the movie in time and in costume as it plays on the screen.
Before the film began, the team summoned the Rocky Horror “virgins” to the front of the auditorium. Anyone who had not been to a late-night showing before was marked with a “V” on their face and forced to participate in three rounds of activities i.e. “Who can fake the best orgasm?” The winners were given a prize each and got to participate in the first scene alongside the Fishnets and Floorshows crew. Two of the winners were UMKC students Ethan Zogg and Merit Christensen, who are currently starring in UMKC Theatre’s co-production of “The Rocky Horror Show” directed by Steven Eubank.
“I never expected to make it to the final round,” Christensen said. She and her partner were picked to play Ralph and Betty in the opening scene with Brad and Janet of the Shadowcast.
Zogg was just as surprised by his win. “I never thought I’d be applauded for faking an orgasm,” he said.
After the pre-show events concluded, it was finally time for the feature presentation. Throughout the movie, the audience was encouraged to talk back. Captions of the most popular heckling lines were displayed on the screen in red letters. Lyrics to the songs were displayed in blue letters. And, yes, the entire auditorium danced the “Time Warp.” Another highlight of the audience participations was getting sprinkled with water from the back row while on the screen Brad and Janet were stranded singing in the rain.
The RHPS late-night crowd is not one for the weak, prude, or movie-watching purist. However, if you think you can handle the drama and debauchery, this is the event for you. The next showing will be at 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 28.