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Mace & Crown | June 24, 2017

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The ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show:' a Staple of the Naro

The ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show:’ a Staple of the Naro
Tyler Passarge
Staff Writer

On Oct. 28, a large crowd gathered outside of the Naro Expanded Cinema for the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Although people went in time for Halloween weekend, the “Rocky Horror Show” is a tradition that has been played year-round at the Naro Theater for 40 years.

Since its premiere in 1975, “Rocky Horror Picture Show” has gained a cult status for its carnivalesque, stage-show-like production that writer Richard O’ Brien created in the vein of B-level horror movies. Hardly considered a hit during its initial release, the musical quickly found a second life through midnight showings that have since taken the world by storm

The film centers on a newly engaged couple who are left stranded in a rainstorm due to a flat tire. Hoping to find help in a nearby mansion, the couple unwittingly find themselves in the middle of chaotic festivities ran by the eccentric Dr. Frank-N-Furter. While the film isn’t really regarded for its plot, the catchy musical numbers have left their mark on today’s culture.

Some people in Hampton Roads would be surprised to find that one of those notorious midnight showings takes place in Norfolk. The show, ran by a group of volunteers called Fishnet Inc., has been performing at the Naro Expanded Cinema for forty years.

Those who have never been to this social phenomenon should be warned of its off the wall procedures. When people first walk into the theater, workers for the show go around asking audience members if it is their first showing. First time attendees, or “Virgins,” as the cast refers them to, are marked with a “V” on their forehead in red lipstick.

Before the show can officially begin, Virgins have to be “initiated” into the show. This initiation involves newcomers to come up on stage, introduce themselves by name to the audience and bend over for a complementary spanking. Cast and crew leader, Andy, admits that the first moment can be initially intimidating, but he assures potential audience members that it is all in good fun.

Once all spankings have been dispensed, the lights go down, the cast take their places on stage and the show begins. A showing of “Rocky Horror” consists of actors mimicking the characters on screen and mouthing the lines to the movies. Members of the group, often dressed as characters from the movie, walk through the aisles of the theater heckling the movie as it plays out.

During many of the musical numbers in the movie, the cast and crew use low budget spectacle to recreate the elaborate set pieces that play out on screen. During the performance of the song “Time Warp,” the most popular song of the movie, cast members demand the audience to stand up. As the song plays on screen, cast members direct the audience on how to do the dance that accompanies the song.

During the halfway point of the show, crew members signal to the audience that it is time for the underwear run. Audience members, as long as they are eighteen or over, can volunteer to step out of the theater and strip down to their underwear in the lobby. A crew member then sends the volunteers out into the theater to run up and down the aisles twice.
Other outlandish occurrences during the show include a bag of props that can be used during certain points of the movie. During a scene that involves a rainstorm, audience members are given water that they can shoot into the crowd to mimic the rain storm. This is a show where audience participation is highly encouraged.

During the Halloween weekend, Fishnet Inc. ran their “Rocky Horror” show for three days with a total of four shows. However, this is a show that runs on a monthly basis all year long. The “Rocky Horror Picture Show” plays at 11:30 p.m. every 4th and 5th Friday of the month. The show takes place at the Naro Expanded Cinema located on Colley Ave. in Norfolk.