The “Rocky Horror Picture Show” cult classic hasn’t gotten tired on screen or on stage after more than 40 years. Not even for Jenny Fitts-Reynolds, who has been the director of the Strater Theatre’s live production since the Durango Halloween tradition started 11 years ago.
The play has a new theme each year, and Fitts-Reynolds said that is something that has become more and more challenging. This year, the cast is “bringing the horror back to Rocky” and nodding to horror movie classics with references to the genre and its famous characters, such as Jason and Freddie Kruger.
“I look at it as a new thing to tackle every year, so I don’t pull out old notes; I don’t pull out my old scripts,” she said.
Fitts-Reynolds said the new spins on the “Rocky Horror” each year keep things fresh for both her and the audience – not that a murdering alien transvestite ever really becomes stale.
The story follows a 1950s traditional couple who end up inside mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s gothic mansion. They are greeted by his Transylvanian crew of outcasts doing the Time Warp. It’s the bizarre characters, script and excellent music that have kept audiences enthralled with “Rocky” for so long.
“It’s so ridiculous – the whole plot,” Fitts-Reynolds said.
“The Rocky Horror Show,” written by Richard O’Brien, who blended his love of sci-fi and B horror, debuted as a musical cabaret in 1973 and was turned into a movie in 1975.
Jason Lythgoe, the Strater Theatre manager, is playing a Gomez Adams version of Riff Raff, the handyman, this year. He said when the sci-fi/B horror/comedy appeared in theaters, it was the first time something that obscure and weird was introduced into the mainstream.
Originally, the movie was quickly shelved after its debut, then was later shown at midnight screenings as a marketing idea. It took the help of devoted film-goers who dressed up like characters, danced along and organically developed and recited an audience script back at the screen at the midnight showings that gave “Rocky Horror” the cachet it has today.
“It has that let-loose feel,” Lythgoe said, which is another reason for “Rocky Horror’s” devotees’ ever-lasting enthusiasm to let their freak flag fly.
“There is a lot of different taboo subjects (in the show) that you can’t always bring up in polite conversation,” Fitts-Reynolds said. “People’s desire to break apart from societal norms keeps them returning to watch the play.”