By NOAH SHACHAR
Some movies win Academy Awards, are nearly forgotten and hardly spoken about again. Some movies are simply boring, while others are entertaining or insightful. But a few movies ignite themselves in a blazing pyre to emerge as a phoenix from smoldering ashes ever livelier, more passionate and mesmerizingly intriguing — growing and reshaping below sternly browed marquees and ghostly, glowing neon tubes in midnight theaters around the world.
Of those latter films — dubbed cult classics — The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the cult classic. Starting as a musical stage production, then adapted for the screen, initially flopping at the box office but achieving a whole new level of success through midnight screenings for over four decades, the film is the longest-running theatrical release in movie history.
On June 15, it returns to Olympia Film Society for another midnight screening.
A Rocky Horror screening isn’t a traditional movie screening. There’s no dark hush over the audience — in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s loud and lively from the seats up to the screen. There’s dancing, singing and yelling, lingerie and props and — arguably, the best part — a cast of actors at the front who shadow the discourse onscreen: a shadow cast.
This June’s screening features the talents of the Dungeons and Dragonflies Shadow Cast. We spoke with Josh “Magical Minion” Wood, the president of Dungeons and Dragonflies, about the upcoming performance and the Rocky Horror experience.
“As far as Rocky Horror goes,” Wood explained, “I have been acting in and performing it for near 17 years.” First seeing the film at age six on television and attending his first screening in 2002, Wood said he “immediately wanted to join in the insanity and fun of the live show.”
Having almost two decades of experience acting in and now training others for the live performance, Wood said, “I can probably site a million different stories of things not going as planned, especially involving tech.” Of course, that’s true for any live show, but his favorite story involves “an act of nature that threw things off.”
Wood recounts when a temperate summer night turned into a torrential downpour, “a large bathtub’s worth of water [dropped] on our Rocky. He didn’t move, he didn’t break character, he took it like a champ.”
It’s moments like these that show the liveliness in each screening and performance. Rocky Horror is never the same event. It’s a constantly changing, magical experience when the witching hour comes. Wood continued, “Everyone said despite the rain it was the most fun they ever had doing Rocky Horror. I had never been more proud of my performers.”
Amidst the live-action peformances, singing and pelvic thrusting, Rocky Horror Picture Show achieves what few other films could. Come storm or trouble, Wood says, “It couldn’t stop the level of fun, energy and interactive spirit that has kept Rocky Horror the longest-running midnight-cult-film experience for over 45 years.” It’s an experience that can’t be read, can’t be watched but must be lived.
Rocky Horror Picture Show, featuring Dungeons and Dragonflies Shadow Cast
Midnight Saturday/Sunday, June 15/16
206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia