Let’s do the time warp again

Sarah McGrath

Crowds clad in fishnet still flock to midnight showings of the cult classic Rocky Horror

The crowd watches Rocky be revealed at The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Barberton. The film is shown every other Saturday at the West Theater in Barberton. LESLEY KATZENMEYER | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

When Pamela Bryan arrived at the West Theater in Barberton, a large “V” was marked on her forehead.

Bryan, of Kenmore, had never seen a live performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and was considered a Rocky Horror “virgin,” which meant she must participate in an initiation ceremony at the start of each performance.

The virgins are sometimes even pulled out of the audience to perform with the actors.

“There was never a dull moment,” Bryan said. “I was surprised because I did not know what to expect.”

If you’ve never gone out at midnight dressed in drag to see the show, break out those fishnet stockings, take a trip to the West Theater, and for a $5 admission fee, see a movie that has been a cult classic for 30 years.

“What else is going to happen in Barberton?” asked Andy Kramer of Ellet, who has performed in the show for eight years. “What else are you going to do on a Saturday night if you don’t want to drink?”

Shown every other Saturday at midnight, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a movie where talking, yelling and throwing things at the movie screen are not only encouraged – they are mandatory.

The film, starring Susan Sarandon, Tim Curry and Meatloaf, debuted in 1975 to not-so-rave reviews. According to the official fan site of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it was not until audience members started to participate that the movie became the cult classic it is today.

The story follows Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple whose car trouble brings them to Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle. They are thrown into the middle of the craziness going on at the castle – just as the audience and performers are at a screening.

Like most theaters across the country that show Rocky Horror, the West Theater plays the film in the background while live cast members act out what is happening on the screen behind them.

“I love it,” said Libby Goodwin, who has been performing in the show for six years. “It is something completely different — an escape from reality.”

Part of the experience of a Rocky Horror performance is the audience participation, which makes the audience seem like part of the cast.

Audience members shout lines that differ from those said in the movie but go along with what the cast members are performing. At one point they get up, form a line and dance to the “Time Warp,” a classic song from the movie.

In the song “Over at the Frankenstein Place,” the characters sing the lyrics, “There’s a light,” signaling the audience members to hold up their lighters or flashlights in unison, illuminating the theater in an eerie glow.

“The people that are here in the audience is what makes the movie what it is,” Kramer said.

From teenagers who are seeing the movie for the first time, to middle-aged adults who saw the movie in its original release, the West Theater attracts a variety of people to its performances.

“So many parents have raised their kids to watch this show,” said Matt Stevic of Canton. “It’s become a family tradition; parents pass it down to their kids. Once you get into this show you can never leave.”

Contact features correspondent Sarah McGrath at [email protected].