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Photo by Zoe Cranfill | Staff Photographer

The Reign of Rocky

Published Oct. 19, 2022

'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' is back and more revealing than ever

By Kayla Bennett | Managing Editor

Why do classics keep coming back? Is it timeliness? Is it the characters? Well, for one show in particular, it's all those qualities combined plus one more: the time warp. A stage graced with lace thongs, revealing clothing, top-notch musical numbers and Dr. Frank-N-Furter can only mean one thing: "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" has returned to Athens.

The cast, all students from Ohio University, is nothing less than electric, oozing chemistry on and off stage. The show is put on by the Lost Flamingo Theatre Company, or LFC, and for some, this is their last time stumbling into the eerie mansion of Frank-N-Furter. For others, it's their first time experiencing the sexual awakening of "Rocky."

"I didn't know anything about 'Rocky' except that you were supposed to dress like a slut, which I did," Abbie Ogilbee, a sophomore who plays Columbia and saw "Rocky" for the very first time last year at The Union, said. "It was great."

The 1975 film "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" follows lovers Brad Majors and Janet Weiss as they navigate a mysterious mansion and its interesting characters. The iconic movie has been adapted into a live show that allows people to express their true selves through song, dance and sexual innuendos.

"Rocky" has been a monumental part of many cast members' lives. It is for Nathan Stanley, who first joined the cast in 2018 and is playing Dr. Everett V. Scott.

"I've always loved the movie, since I was way too young to be watching the movie," Stanley said. "I thought it was really cool, and I was like, 'Why not try out?' Then, I almost didn't try out, and then my friend was coming. She was like, 'Come with me,' so I did, and the rest is history."

Stanley said that the performance is an opportunity for people to feel accepted and celebrate themselves and each other. The show, Stanley said, unexpectedly brings people together in ways they may not have known an hour and 38 minutes ago.

"I would say Rocky is like nothing you've ever seen," Ogilbee said. "It's crazy and it's bloody. And it's really an awakening, you will be horny all night."

Like Stanley and Ogilbee, Makenzie Price, who plays Magenta, said "Rocky" radiates togetherness and, for Price, "Rocky" is the heart of Athens.

"I love performing in general, but there's something about my connection to this role that feels unearthly in a way," Price said. "I just have such a fun time doing it, and the sexual nature of it is something I brought into my life. I've always struggled with femininity and masculinity – specifically, I wanted to be more masculine and this is more feminine for me, but I feel comfortable in it and I never felt that way before. So it was kind of a way of taking back femininity in a way … it felt right for me."

The cast believes "Rocky" is the perfect chance for someone who has never experienced this type of show to express their true selves.

"They (the audience) should just come in open-minded, ready to have fun, and feel whatever sexual feelings that they feel because that's a part of the show," Price said.

Another key factor of "Rocky" is the carrying on of roles until one graduates or decides to leave the production. Janet Weiss, played by Emily Ivory, and Brad Majors, played by Mac Christian, know the feeling of longevity in Rocky. Ivory and Christian, both seniors, have been working together for three years now and have watched themselves grow through the characters.

The show, for Ivory, is intertwined with messages of confidence and comfort.

"I think it gave me … a completely new set of friends, a whole new confidence just in myself and I think that it could probably bring that for anybody who is a part of it," Ivory said.

Christian has continued his role because of the excitement it brings everyone who watches it.

"Well, at the beginning, when I get naked, it's an interesting feeling," Christian said. "But once you get that out of the way and you get the stockings on and the heels on — that's what I love the most about the show, because it's something I would never have done in a million years. Then, I did it here."

The show would not be complete without the ensemble, better known as the "Whorus."

"I decided to join because everyone in the cast is super hot and super cool, and I went to the show last year, and I was super captivated," Jack Wilburn, a sophomore who's in Rocky for the first time as a member of the Whorus this year, said. "Everybody did such an amazing job. And the energy was so sensational that I decided that I had to be a part of it."

Junior Lily Boulard, the "whoreographer" for "Rocky," senior Emma Ledford-Adkins, the sign and sophomore Erin Bishop, the lips, are all members of the Whorus. Boulard returned this year and took on the role of choreographer because of a love for the show. The show, Boulard said, is a hallmark for queer representation and a staple of Athens' individuality.

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Zoe Cranfill | Staff Photographer

Columbia, Abbie Ogilbee, practices her part for Rocky Horror Picture Show LIVE at Bentley Hall on October 18, 2022.

“Our version is done in a way that only 'Rocky' is done”-Lily Boulard

"...You walk in and it's a bar, and then they're playing the movie and then they're acting in front of it and you're like, 'What is this? Is it a movie? Is it a play? Is it a musical?' Who knows," Boulard said. "People are interacting with the audience. It's a very distinct, idiosyncratic show."

Ledford-Adkins said the show is a change of pace from the high-stress, everyday college life that many people at OU experience, and for Bishop, "Rocky" relays the message that even when someone is looking, one should always be themselves.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday are a chance to be surrounded by people who embrace themselves for who they are and encourage others to do the same. It also provides an opportunity to watch the cast perform memorable moments.

"As the lips, I would say come see 'Rocky' if you want to see me and a bunch of other hot, sexy people shaking booty on stage," Bishop said.

Being up on stage is nerve-racking, but the audiences make it worth it. The cast feeds off of the energy the audience gives during the performance. Senior Heylea Allan, who plays Riff Raff, was once a member of the audience but has a role in the show this year.

"I have seen it the two times it's happened in my college career … my partner actually played this role before me, so I took it on," Allan said. "It's like a legacy thing."

Filling the shoes of Dr. Frank-N-Furter this year is junior Quinn Bennett. Through the process of preparing the show for opening night, Bennett, along with the rest of the cast, has felt an array of emotions from stress to excitement.

"I just feel lucky to have been a part of the whole process because everybody here is so great and because the show is so great," Bennett said. "Doing it on the stage … is going to be fun. The audience's energy is what makes the show."

Putting it all together is director Zoe Korns and assistant director Max Levitsky, who are both seniors.

"I love this show," Korns said. "And I love the people involved in it. 'Rocky' is really close to my heart. It's something that I've been a huge fan of for many years of my life and doing it with some of my favorite people and my best friends has been a great experience."

Korns said seeing how the audience will receive the show is what's most anticipated. So much dedication goes into making it the most electrifying event of the fall, and Christian agrees. "It's so sexy because it's an excuse for people to slut out and not be who they usually are and be around people that feel the same way," Christian said. "And I think that's probably why it reigns."

The checkered floors of The Union are awaiting a crowd of heels and corsets. "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" will be at The Union from Oct. 20 to Oct. 22. The doors will open at 8 p.m. and costs $8 for those 21 and over and $10 for those under 21.

If there's one thing to leave "Rocky" with, it's, "Don't dream it, be it," Bennett said.

AUTHOR: Kayla Bennett
EDITOR: Katie Millard