As the December 18th premier of “The Force Awakens” approaches, New York City’s official Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadow Cast began preparing for their annual “Star Wars”-themed show with a newly awakened determination.
Midnight performances typically consist of sexual jokes, flying toast, and rowdy audiences drunk on cheap booze (and probably blood). For the December 12th show, the cast planned to top a previous “Star Wars” night from earlier this year, revamping the regular material as a nod to everyone’s favorite man, George Lucas.
“Our director had been hoping to do a ‘Star Wars’ show for a number of years because he is such a big fan of the franchise,” says Eric Garment, cast member and Director-at-Large, to BTR. “It finally all did come together for our ‘May the Fourth Be With You’ show earlier this year.”
“The show is generally the same every week; we like to do [theme nights] to give us an outlet to show off our creative skills,” says Cast Director, Tom Amici. “This particular theme night was a dream idea of mine.”
“Star Wars,” a franchise that lost a lot of steam after the release of episodes one through three, is back to an all-time high as fans await the upcoming movies.
“’The Force Awakens’ is one of the most highly anticipated movies of all-time, and it’s in a very strange situation that didn’t occur with the prequels,” says Amici. “Before ‘The Phantom Menace’ came out, everyone was so excited without reservation. Now ‘Star Wars’ fans feel they’ve been burned.”
The movies have continued to accrue millions of followers in the years since the original release of “A New Hope,” but with Disney’s acquisition of the Lucas film, fans like Amici worry they may face yet another disappointment.
“While they’ve corrected problems people had with the sequels, there is still a concern that it would be too nostalgia-based,” he explains.
This theme night arrives at a convenient time—just before the release of the new film. The cast believes that the spike in popularity of this franchise contributed to a universally appealing show, for both veteran Rocky fans and newcomers.
“The release of this movie is hot,” says Amici, “I guess we’ll have to see.”
Because the movie’s release falls just after the show, the Rocky cast incorporated familiar elements of “Star Wars” into their performance.
“Those people who know ‘Rocky Horror’ already pick up on more of the details and changes,” explains Amici.
“Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, so we cast them as Frank-N-Furter and his creation Rocky…Han Solo and Princess Leia are a hero and heroine, so they are Brad and Janet,” adds Amici.
In addition to a character facelift, the show featured clips from the “Star Wars” movies edited in to the standard material.
“As the show progresses, the relationships get mixed up and very weird, which just adds to the fun,” says Amici.
The outlandish fun of Rocky Horror pairs well with “Star Wars,” as both movies attract incredibly passionate fans with a thirst for adventure, lifelong devotees to the campy, sci-fi factor.
Audience participants experienced a show in which cast members performed in “Star Wars” character interpretations of their regular costumes, and were welcome to attend in their own costumes. While a small portion of attendees dresses up on a weekly basis, the group expected that number to increase due to the sheer variety of “Star Wars” characters and their cosplay potential.
Cast members hoped to “broaden the audience,” says Garmet, intriguing people who might wonder Rocky Horror looks like when crossed with the “Star Wars” universe.
By encouraging cosplay amongst attendees, the cast creates a more inclusive environment. In future, says Amici, “it would be awesome to have at least as many characters in the audience as we do on the stage.”
The goal was to draw in some fresh faces to the audience, as many Rocky participants are often members of other fandoms and would potentially bring fellow “Star Wars” fans along. Whether or not the show garnered attention from new fans, however, the atmosphere was unquestionably a celebration of “Star Wars.”
While the typical midnight show never ceases to shock audience members, this particular theme night promised even more surprises. Audiences were thrilled to whip out their light sabers, and experience the disastrous outcome when Brad and Janet knocked on the door of the death star.