Rocky Horror: Powering Through an Electricity Free Tech Week

Will Mahan, Scarlet Staff

It was a day before opening night. Sitting in pitch black, a nervous yet excited cast all huddled around a determined director. Victoria Beyer, the director of this year’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” seemed to have almost unmovable trust in her cast and crew, and in her ability to put on a successful shadow cast production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” 

This confidence was reciprocated back to Beyer by the cast and production crew as well. “I think she did an amazing job as director. She maintained a level head even through two blackouts, and her kind, supportive, but also firm and focused, leadership made the show what it was,” said Spencer Weijer, a member of the shadow cast. 

As the team sat in the dark from the power outage on Thursday, Beyer confidently took the cast and crew into the hallways of Jonas Clark to begin the process of continuing the finalization of blocking the musical number “Damn It, Janet.” With her iPhone and speaker in hand, she played the movie from the start of the song, and began to make slight adjustments to the actors’ placements and movements. “I was definitely a little panicked because of the power outages impeding upon tech week,” said cast member Anabel Riggio. “But, as a huge fan of “Rocky Horror,” myself, I realized that shadow casts are rarely ever super polished and that the audience is really just there to get weird and have fun. So, I knew that as long as we could be high energy, it would be a success.”

Several onlookers passing the halls looked upon the cast in curiosity during the rehearsal, but the cast continued their choreography unfazed. With no access to teaching plans the night before the show, the cast and the production crew had to shoot from the hip, and attempt to cover all of the spots they were supposed to before the show’s opening on Friday. 

It wasn’t the first time during tech week that power outages had occurred, however. On Wednesday, a power outage occurred while rehearsal was in Tilton Hall, resulting in a premature cancellation of several hours of rehearsal time. “The power outages definitely made tech week very challenging. We had to be very flexible as the outage lead to original rehearsal sites being unusable and we had to find other places on short notice. While it made the rehearsals hectic, it did help the cast bond in a weird way,” said Erin Frizell, a member of the shadow cast.

 Being behind on schedule meant that actors’ and actresses’ commitment and dedication to learning blocking effectively was vital to the success of the final performance. In this and in every other regard, the cast of “Rocky Horror” did not disappoint. “I am so incredibly thrilled with all of the work that our cast and production team did in order to bring this outrageous and unconventional show to life,” said Beyer. “No one let power outages, weird rehearsal spaces, or technical difficulties stop them from having a blast on stage. I am so grateful for all of the hours that the production team contributed and the hard work that the great people from CUFSS dedicated to make the night a success.”

A lot of passion was radiating from this year’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” With mesmerizing choreography by Tereza Lopez, Clark Musical Theatre’s Shadow Cast practically matched the Rocky Horror Picture Show movie beat for beat. “I think they did really good and they were willing to work and support each other,” remarked Lopez. It was an impressive feat, and a sign of Lopez’s theatrical talent. Being a member of Clark University’s Variant Dance Troupe, and having danced for fourteen years, Lopez was very excited to have a debut performance with her own signature choreography.

A lot of the show’s success was also contributed to by the Clark University Film Screening Society (CUFFS) who had quickly set up the movie on the background screen on the day of the show. CUFFS successfully made the movie visible on the background screen, behind the shadow cast, while also making sure that the shadow cast actors’ faces were visible. 

Accomplishing satisfactory lighting for both the movie and the shadow cast actors proved to be a challenge. However, because of CUFFS’ early and professional arrival to Atwood Hall hours before the show started, CUFFS was able to change surrounding lighting to perfect levels for the show, while also giving the shadow cast a chance to properly adjust to the lighting of the stage around them. As a producer of the show and head of the Clark University Film Screen Society, David Judkins, was very careful in making sure that open lines of communication were kept between the Clark Musical Theatre Shadow Cast and the Clark Screening Society’s teams. “It was a great improvement on last year and I think it showed in the level of production we were able to put together,” Judkins said. 

 After the show wrapped up, the cast and production crew behind ‘Rocky Horror” remained very grateful for each others’ commitment to one another, and towards putting together a glamorous show. It was the tightly-knit team work of the production team that was able to successfully work together to organize such a challenging show. “As a producer I was super excited for the show!” exclaimed producer Kenny Liappes. “I couldn’t wait to see the theatre magic to happen and see the show get pieced together. The director and stage management teams both were very professional and continued to impress me with the amount of work that they were able to accomplish in such a short time. They also made my job extremely easy by being very straight forward about the needs and tasks of the show to make it run properly. I was happily ready to work hard behind the scenes to aid in bringing the show to life. Overall the production team and actors were all very kind and receptive and made a super positive environment in which they worked on their craft and brought a movie back to life for the students on campus to enjoy. I enjoyed every moment of the show and being a producer for it!” 

 The audience’s reactions on the night of the show certainly signify the success of the event, with members of the audience actively engaged in the audience participation scripts, all the while roaring at the end of the show and even giving the entire cast of the show a standing ovation during bows. This year’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will certainly not be forgotten by those who had seen it, and by those who were a part of it. Despite an electricity-free tech week, the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” shadow cast and production crew powered through, and put on a spectacular show this past week.