By Taylor Dressel
The original Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in 1975, but, recently, it’s been revamped. A new version of the cult classic premiered on Fox on Oct. 20 starring Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank N. Furter.
Austin Hill, a theater assistant professor at Youngstown State University, said the horror-comedy musical was never intended to be high art.
“It was intended to be a parody of bad Hollywood horror and science-fiction films,” he said.
But it did well when it was released, especially in the LGBT community.
“[The film] helped being gay seem at least somewhat more ‘normal,’” Hill said.
Midnight showings of the film became social events with audience participation and “shadow casts” — fans acting out the movie in front of the screen.
“They grew spontaneously, and partially in reaction to the fact that the film isn’t particularly good,” Hill said. “But it was never intended to be particularly good.”
The most notable change in the new version, according to Hill, is that Dr. Frank N. Furter is played by Laverne Cox. While male actor Tim Curry played Dr. Frank N. Furter in drag in the original, Cox is a transgender woman. Despite that, Hill prefers the original.
“While I love the story behind Laverne Cox’s casting as Frank, the reality of it just didn’t work,” Hill said. “Ivy Levan as Trixie, the usherette who opened the show, was bad enough that several of my friends reported turning off the film in the opening minutes.”
A local revival of Rocky Horror is happening closer to home. A stage production is currently running in Salem, Ohio. It’s directed by Michael Dempsey.
Dempsey enjoys the film, but he said it works better as a play.
“The play has everything the movie has, but it is more dynamic when it’s live,” Dempsey said. “It’s also fun to see the opening number, ‘Science Fiction Double Feature’ performed by the usherettes, rather than the iconic lips singing it in the movie.”
Fans of Rocky Horror have one last chance to catch it this weekend in Salem with showings on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 330-332-9688.