HANFORD – Cult films fans have been shivering in anticipation all year for the return of Hanford’s annual “Rocky Horror Picture Show” shadowcast.
A screening of the 1975 film is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Hanford Civic Auditorium, during which a “shadowcast” of characters will emulate scenes from the movie live on stage — and sometimes in the crowd.
The line between performer and audience member is always delightfully blurred at any ‘Rocky’ screening as the audience is encouraged to come dressed — or slightly undressed — as their favorite character from the movie.
“’Rocky Horror’ allows people to be a different version of themselves that they don’t normally get to be,” organizer and director Marc Aguirre said, adding that he sees his fellow shadowcast members gain new-found confidence by the night of the show that they may not have had on the first day of rehearsals.
In addition to organizing the event and directing the show for the past three years, Aguirre will perform as everyone’s favorite Transexual Transylvanian, Dr. Frank N. Furter, originally portrayed by Tim Curry.
The film, for those who have somehow missed the wildest movie in cinema history, revolves around Dr. Frank’s mad scientist schemes to create the perfect man — one with blonde hair and a tan. The plans are disrupted by a chance encounter with squares Brad and Janet, who’ve stumbled upon Dr. Frank's castle after some car troubles. From there, there’s musical numbers, cannibalism, revelations about sex and gender, aliens, a Time Warp and so much more.
The audience, of course, is as much a part of the film as any jump to the left or step to the right. Near-constant cues in the film result in a barrage of audience participation that ranges from shouting insults at characters to throwing rice during the wedding scene to re-creating rainfall with water guns.
While many in the cast are returning, newcomers Samantha Jones and Bailey Avila-Beach will play Brad and Janet this year. While new to Hanford's "Rocky," the duo isn't new to performing on stage. Jones is a fire-breathing sword-swallower and Avila-Beach played Brad in a Visalia Players’ production of the “Rocky Horror” stage show a few years ago.
“It’s really fun getting to play this character that starts out so quiet and by the end of it is in his heels, throwing his legs around, singing about sex,” Avila-Beach said. “It’s so strange but it’s fun.”
“I relate more when [Janet] is weird. I can play normal, but it’s not my favorite,” Jones said, laughing.
Going into its third year, the Hanford affair has blazed a ‘Rocky’ trail in the Valley. In addition to becoming an annual Halloweentime event that people look forward to, other theaters have followed in the tradition. Fresno's Crest Theatre screened the film last month and the Hanford Fox will show the film on Nov. 1.
“It’s affecting us a little, but as long as we keep putting on a good show, people will continue to come see us,” Aguirre said. “There’s enough ‘Rocky’ to go around.”
Aguirre added that it’s great for “Rocky” fans to have so many choices on how to see the film. He attended the Fresno screening and has plans to attend the Fox’s screening, as well.
Aguirre’s ultimate goal in bringing “Rocky” to Hanford was to attract attention to the city and its downtown area and, judging by ticket sales, it has worked. People are coming in from all over the Valley and from as far away as Coarsegold for the event.
While all three years of ‘Rocky’ have so far coincided with the annual Witches Night Out, the scheduling was more coincidence than master plan. The night may be getting too busy for both events, Aguirre said. In an effort to not make Halloween fans choose between the two iconic events, “Rocky” will change dates next year. The plan is to host multiple Halloween-night performances in the Hanford Carnegie Museum’s newly-renovated backyard garden next year.