Originally published for: Print Journalism class assignment
It’s been 39 years since The Rocky Horror Picture Show was first released to theatres, but is still finding new fans after decades on the silver screen. Thanks to the Fredericton Playhouse, it’s a Fredericton fixture once again.
On Halloween, the Fredericton Playhouse held a midnight screening of the film for the second time. Though it’s become a Halloween staple as common as haunted houses and candy apples, screenings of the film were notably absent from Fredericton for a number of years.
It’s something that the Playhouse’s creative director Tim Yerxa wanted to bring back for a new generation.
“It was such a great tradition and it’s such a great, great film,” he said.
Yerxa says he has fond memories of viewing the film in Tilley Hall when he was a student at the University of New Brunswick, and says he was disappointed when the screenings abruptly stopped.
“I think they stopped because we were trashing the place,” he said.
Since its release in 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been elevated to cult status, with midnight movie screenings popping up in cities worldwide each Halloween. The film revolves around a straight-laced couple as they stumble across the home of Dr. Frank N. Furter, the self-proclaimed “sweet transvestite” from Transylvania. The film is also notable for its early performances from actors Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon.
Attendees typically arrive dressed up in outlandish costumes. Audience participation is encouraged, especially during the famous “Time Warp” dance sequence.
Playhouse staff members were on hand to give Time Warp lessons on stage before the screening while in costume as characters from the movie. The best – or just the most enthusiastic – dancers were invited to perform a solo.
Despite its age – the film will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year – many attendees on Friday were experiencing the show for the first time.
Student Philippe Ferland said this was his first Rocky Horror experience. He arrived sporting a dress and red lipstick.
“My friends said it would be a fun time, and they told me that all the guys would be dressed like this,” he said, “so I kind of believed it.”
Students like Ferland made up much of the audience that night. Ferland said he was excited to get in on the tradition and see what it was all about.
Yerxa says he’s happy that he could bring back the event for a second year. He said that last year’s event was an “experiment,” to see if there was still an interest in the film. The success from last year prompted its return, and Yerxa has high hopes that this will become an annual event at the Playhouse.
Yerxa said that this year’s crowd was even bigger than last year’s event. He estimated that there were 280 attendees on Friday.
As it nears its fourth decade of dancing and drag queens, The Rocky Horror Picture Show isn’t losing steam. Frederictonians showed that people are still eager to learn how to do the Time Warp again.