Lost Flamingo’s “Rocky Horror” Moves to Jackie O’s for 13th Annual Production

Posted on:

< < Back to

The biggest cross-dressing, profane and topsy-turvy event of the year is nearly here.

The Lost Flamingo Company, Ohio University’s only student-run theater troupe, will stage its 13th annual production of the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, kicking off performances tonight and continuing Thursday and Saturday. The “Virgin Sacrifice” games, as they are lovingly and traditionally known, begin at 10 p.m. each night.

The 1975 musical film, starring Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year (the original stage show debuted in 1973). The plot follows a newly-engaged couple whose vehicle breaks down in an isolated area, and have no choice but to approach Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s residence to borrow a phone.

And that’s where fishnets and corsets come in.

But this year, the production process for cast and crew — many of whom are returning members — has been shaken up with a venue change to Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery.

For the first 12 years, the show took place on the second floor of The Union. However, after last November’s fire that disrupted living spaces and businesses — injuring six and displacing dozens, according to a previous WOUB report — Rocky had no choice but to relocate.

“I think it’ll be a little sad not being at The Union,” said Tess Plona, who is playing Janet for the second year in a row. “When I went and saw it the year before I was in it, it was in The Union, and then I was in it in The Union. It has a lot of history, but the cast, to my knowledge, is really adaptable.”

Migrating to the neighboring bar means working with space changes. The production will take place on Jackie O’s Public House stage. Director Kelly Bergenstein said that because The Union’s stage was long, narrow and rectangular and the Jackie O’s stage is a “perfect square,” the cast might have to have scenes restaged at the last-minute.

Why last-minute? Because opening night is the first time the cast will get to use the stage.

Some of the props and set pieces, such as platforms to create a catwalk for the character Frank-N-Furter, are designed to fit the space at The Union, so readjusting those could prove challenging, too.

“Opening night we’ll be going blind, (but) I’m excited. …They’ve been pretty accommodating,” Bergenstein said of Jackie O’s management. “We’ve had to make some compromises, like not working in the space prior to the show.”

Another compromise for the cast is Jackie O’s restriction of the number of underage attendees (previous performances at The Union were 18 and up). Many of the cast members are underage, but management agreed to exempt them from the 25-person limit. As of this morning, the show’s Facebook event had 796 people attending.

“We do put restrictions on the number of under-aged guests after 10 p.m., however, I have been notified that we will be making an exception for this show,” Jackie O’s Office Manager Sarah Holey-Schwartz said in an email. “While I have not been given a specific number for how many under-aged guests will be permitted, we tend to play it by ear, monitoring the crowd to help us determine whether it is appropriate to let more under-agers in.”

Assistant Director Elicia Gibson said that many people just want to come and enjoy the show. Despite being 21 by the time of last year’s Rocky Horror performance, Gibson stayed sober the entire night, and she loved every minute of it.

“To speak on their behalf, I think that they’ve never done anything really like this before,” Gibson said. “Jackie O’s does a lot of music performances…and nothing that they’ve done before has compared to this.”

Holey-Schwartz said that, although Jackie O’s does not frequently host theater productions, they do feature several burlesque shows per year.

Even though the Rocky Horror cast and production staff have faced their share of struggles, they’re focusing on the playful aspects of the show, such as watching people seek out Frank-N-Furter or figuring out which audience members are uncomfortable with everything around them (likely “virgins”) and which ones are soaking it all in.

“And then I’ll go up to them and just grab their butt,” Ian George (Frank-N-Furter) joked about the newcomers who stare but are too intimidated to approach him.

One person who has yet to see a live Rocky performance is one of their own: Producer Jimmy Schwartzman. He said he was “taken aback” at first by some of the show’s profane callbacks, but is more comfortable with them now.

Rocky Horror, while it is a weird, eccentric, wild (show), it’s also a safe space,” Gibson said for anyone who might be uncomfortable at first. “It’s where anybody can come be where they are, whether that’s who they are every day, or someone they only show to a select few. It’s a non-judging place.”

Schwartzman is in charge of responsibilities such as fundraising and marketing. This year, the production staff set up a new Twitter account, @OU_Rocky, to tweet behind-the-scenes photos and videos. They’ve also done ticket giveaways, raffles and t-shirt sales.

“For anybody coming to the show, whether or not you’ve been there before, just continue to come with an open mind,” Bergenstein said. “It’s gonna be a different atmosphere, but it’ll still be the same Rocky that you’ve been coming to see since you came to college here, and it’ll be just as fun.”

The Facebook event description adds a request from Jackie O’s representatives to kindly leave all traditional props at home, and to dress fairly modestly for the occasion.

Tickets will be sold at the door for $5 each. Attendees under 21 will have to pay a $2 cover, and t-shirts will be sold for $12 at the venue.