Everything And More; or, Why My Ex is Straight Now: “The Rocky Horror Show”

Richard O’Brien’s THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW / MOONBOX PRODUCTIONS 2021
Photography: Molly Shoemaker

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Music, lyrics and book by Richard O’Brien
Directed by David Lucey
Music Directed by Mindy Cimini
Choreography by Daniel Forest Sullivan
Dramaturgy by Allison Olivia Choat

October 16 – 31, 2021
Oct. 23 & 24 @ 7PM (ASL Interpreted Performance)
Fri 10/29 8pm (Audio Described Performance)
“The Lab” 
25 Brattle Street
Cambridge MA 02138
Moonbox on Facebook

Please note: Masks and either Proof of Vaccination/Negative PCR Covid Test Results (within 72 hours) are REQUIRED for entry. Thank you for helping us keep everyone safe!

Tickets are General Admission with Pay-What-You-Can* Seating available at the box office prior to each performance.

Content warning: Language, SEXual content, and fabulous drag queens across the gender spectrum

Review by Kitty Drexel

Cambridge, MA — The Rocky Horror Show at The Lab in Harvard Square is everything Rocky Horror could be during these COVID-times and more. Its energy is electric. The cast is damn brilliant. The band is brilliant. Every single person involved in the preview on Friday night knows how to get down (and get back up again). 

Moonbox’s The Rocky Horror Show will cure what ails you – removing the cause but not the symptom. The Lab is awash in bisexual lighting when you enter; we were all lit up in pinks, purple and subtle blues. Gobos twirled above our heads as we sat in rows facing the audience. OMGs, it was so much fun! 

Unlike the performances in 2019, this year’s Rocky Horror doesn’t allow the cast and audience to mingle for safety reasons. Masks stayed on. Everyone remained seated. Even during “The Time Warp.” (I joyfully danced from my seat, and you can too!) 

Some old traditions remained firmly in place. The audience called out and Alex Jacobs as our cheeky Narrator and Peter Mill as the glamorously licentious Frank called back. Some of us sang with the cast. Some didn’t. It was all alright. 

Richard O’Brien’s THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW / MOONBOX PRODUCTIONS 2021. Photography: Molly Shoemaker

The Rocky Horror Show needs an intimacy director. IDC Professionals and Intimacy Directors International both say that intimacy direction should be conducted by a professional who fulfills only that role in a production. If there was ever a musical that needed an intimacy director, Rocky Horror is it. If Moonbox can budget a COVID compliance Officer (rock on Kailey Bennett), then it can hire a dedicated intimacy director. 

Rocky Horror contains lewd sexual acts. Frank (Peter Mill who reprises his role with ) coerces Brad (Ryan Norton) and Janet (Christina Jones) into sex. Coercion is rape. Anything less than enthusiastic consent is rape. Technically, Frank rapes Brad and Janet while Magenta (Lori L’Iatlien), Riff Raff (Kevin Hanley), and an entire castle of Phantoms let it happen. Poor Rocky (Jack Manning). 

Rocky Horror implies that if Brad and Janet weren’t such stuck-up, uptight tightwads of moral frigidity they’d be excited to have sex with Frank like Columbia (Shalyn Grow) and Eddie (Shonna Cirone). Why, even Dr. Scott (also Cirone) gets in on the sexy times fun. The show wants us to think that Brad and Janet only say no because their 1950s-era repressions prevent them. 

It’s like the lady voice in “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” She wants it but can’t say she wants it. 

Except, consent isn’t retroactive. It’s still rape. Their rapes aren’t negated because they enjoy sex later. That’s patriarchal BS. 

Rocky Horror is my favorite musical, and I’m well aware that it has problems. So many problems

I was 14 when I saw my mother hide her VHS copy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in her special, not-for-kids office cabinet. She regularly hid things in there that we weren’t supposed to see: movies like The Piano, spicy romance novels, homemade rum balls. 

But, Rocky Horror was special. RHPS was a musical! My family didn’t do musicals because Dad hated them. I loved them. 

Mom let me see her put away RHPS, and she told me it wasn’t for kids while not making eye contact. She swung the door wide, tucked the movie away, and made a show of closing it. Mom was either completely oblivious, or she wanted me to know that she knew I was going to find this musical movie and watch it on my own. You could never tell at our house. 

I felt only a little guilt when I dashed like a madwoman for RHPS the next time my parents both went out for a few hours together. I told my two brothers why I needed the TV for two hours, disinvited them to watch with me, and closed the TV room door. RHPS (and watching Labyrinth for the first time) is one of the defining moments of my young adulthood. 

Richard O’Brien’s THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW / MOONBOX PRODUCTIONS 2021. Photography: Molly Shoemaker

A couple of years later, I started dating a boy who liked to dress up as Frank N Furter and was also named Tim. It was something he like to do with his mom. (Which I understand now as the reddest of red flags.) He’s married with kids in Utah now, but I’ll always remember him as Frank. 

As Tim Curry flung off his cape in “Sweet Transvestite” I flagrantly flung aside my heterosexuality. There were options I didn’t even know existed: If gay men could dress up in lingerie and makeup maybe I could be femme and still like the ladies! RHPS invited me to be me – dubious consent issues withstanding. I was partially liberated at 14. 

We don’t use words like transsexual or transvestite anymore for good reason. They appear in The Rocky Horror Show because those were the words our community had. It was empowering to claim them and throw them back at the people who used them as slurs. We sing them now because they are the words Richard O’Brien wrote. 

Singing in community is good for the awakening soul, and it’s fun. Moonbox’s The Rocky Horror Show is very fun. We must remember where we came from to know where we can go from here. 

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