They live among us. No, not witches or zombies, but the cast of GW’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Each October, Forbidden Planet Productions presents the show with a cult-like following, providing the most risqué and edgy display in student theater.
It seems that this show, about a couple that wanders into the den of multi-talented transsexuals, is more than just a show. It is the common thread that weaves together the lives of a number of GW students from varied backgrounds who otherwise might not have had a platform to express themselves. Is being a part of Rocky automatically an induction to a GW counterculture?
When junior Paul Rozenberg enters rehearsal, he wears shorts, a T-shirt and a pair of flip-flops. Right before opening night on Friday Paul appears again, this time in a red corset, fishnets, sky-high black patent-leather heels and the signature scarlet lips. Somehow, it looks natural.
“I’ve loved Rocky since I was 11 years old,” Rozenberg said. “My mother introduced me to it.” He said that when he came to Colonial Inauguration before his freshman year, he was automatically drawn to the cult classic.
He has starred as Dr. Frankenfurter, the role made famous by Tim Curry, since his freshman year, and this year donned the director’s hat along with co-director Andrew Springer.
“Rocky Horror is the perfect example of saying ‘lighten up,'” the New Jersey native said.
Springer, who hails from West Virginia, was first exposed to Rocky when he caught the movie version on VH1. He said he recognized that this was something he wanted to be a part of. As far as the counterculture that Rocky represents, he pointed to a group in Fairfax called the Transylvanian Concubines, who perform weekly.
“(At GW) the counterculture would exist more if there was a weekly show,” Springer said. “In Fairfax there is a true subculture, but at GW there’s not a sense of a subculture community.”
“I think people here are more reserved,” said Peter Cocchia, as an explanation for a lack of true counterculture. Cocchia plays straight-laced Brad. “But there are definitely edgy people here.”
Katharine Crnko, who plays Magenta, one of the female leads, recounted her experience at auditions when the Rocky hopefuls were told to stand in a circle and simulate an orgasm. “I asked myself, ‘are these the kind of people I want to be hanging out with?'”
“(Rocky) is a great way to meet people that you normally wouldn’t meet,” Crnko said.
The Seattle native addressed the fact that partial to almost full-on nudity is part of the territory when doing Rocky. “You get really close to the people you’re naked around.”
On Friday night, one Rocky fan and former cast member, Sasha Madway, refuted the existence of a counterculture.
“There is no counterculture at GW,” the junior said. “People are more rigid.”
At a rehearsal last week, the cast practiced in a room in academic building Phillips Hall. The “trannys” walked around freely in leather boustiers, frilly underwear, fishnet stockings and obscenely high heels. When the cast found out they were switching rehearsal there was a procession of leather, feathers and lamé. Students in a nearby classroom watched this scene go by, and were perhaps a little alarmed, but not overwhelmingly surprised.
“There is a very vibrant counterculture at GW,” Rozenberg said. “It is a very accepting community.”