The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

UMW Theatre “The Rocky Horror Show” takes the audience on a strange and sensual journey

4 min read

The show portrays the sexual wakening of Brad Major and Janet Weiss, played by Mason Oberle and Shannon McGowan. Photo Courtesy of Geoff Greene


Life Editor

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from UMW’s production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” it’s that men with really toned legs look great in fishnet stockings. 

On Nov. 9, UMW Theatre opened up its doors to show off its new production “The Rocky Horror Show,” directed by Gregg Stull with musical direction by Ben Shaver and choreography by Samantha L. Reynolds. Written by Richard O’Brien and first performed in 1973, the show follows a journey of self-discovery and embracing your true self. 

In the show, two lovers, Brad Major and Janet Weiss, played by Mason Oberle and Shannon McGowan, stumble upon an unlikely bunch of people. Covered in fishnet, leather and tattoos, the people living in Frank ‘N’ Furter’s mansion guide Janet and Brad through sexual experiences and what many would consider to be a kinky awakening.

The performance has extensive audience participation, mainly shown by the “call-outs” from the audience at specific times in the show. For example, whenever an actor says “Brad Major,” everyone in the audience yells out “Asshole!” Those and other call-outs happen throughout the show.

When asked about how audience interaction affects the atmosphere, senior theatre major Oscar Leon, who plays Frank ‘N’ Furter, said, “Whatever the audience’s energy is, and whatever they’re sending out is reflected on what we do.” 

Having seen the show, I can attest to this. However, according to Leon, there are also some difficulties that come along with the call-outs from the audience. 

“Sometimes I get a little caught up in the audience participation because it’s a long [call-out] and I’m like ‘Oh, that’s a funny one—what am I going to say next?’” Leon said.

The audience participation doesn’t stop at the call-outs. If purchased for an extra $2, audience members will receive a fun pack with different props, including a water gun, newspaper, toilet paper and rubber gloves, they can use throughout the show to enhance and bring the storyline to life. However, five people around me ended up sitting in damp seats because their water guns were not sealed, and one of the noise-making props didn’t work quite as well as audience members had hoped. 

Aside from this, the show was a spectacular performance. I grew up watching and listening to “The Rocky Horror Show,” but it’s been a few years since I saw it, so when I saw the actors dancing down the aisles in lingerie, I had an initial shock but was left in awe, wondering how all of these people could be so confident being so raunchy. 

Confidence in both your body and your sexuality is a theme that the show portrayed very well. With sex scenes and most of the characters singing and dancing in only underwear throughout the performance, the roles require a lot of confidence, or at least a fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude. 

Sophomore music major Kyleigh Friel, who plays Magenta and an Usherette in the show, discussed the way that being so unclothed affected her personally.

“For me, before I started Rocky, I wasn’t as comfortable in my body, dancing and just being so exposed,” she said. “And I’m pretty clothed in the show too. But I didn’t expect to feel so much more comfortable just moving around and taking up space, which is kind of a really cool thing that I didn’t expect to get out of this experience.”

There were a few surprising moments as characters revealed themselves throughout the show, one being the moment when a gurney rolled up and a sheet flew off to reveal Rocky on stage in nothing but gold underwear. I had the lovely opportunity to sit in a group of young boys and older women, who all had different reactions. I heard one lady a few seats down shout out “You turn me on!” while the boys sitting behind me couldn’t stop their giggling—I’m talking about you, seat 109F. 

With the elaborate, two-story set, the actors danced up and down a spiral staircase, across a balcony and through the audience, making the audience part of the show. The stage was also built out into the area where there are usually seats, making it feel almost like a concert.  

 With much anticipation surrounding the show, it sold out before it even opened. However, to anyone who is preparing to see it, senior theatre major Shannon McGowan gave some advice.

 “Remember that this is a celebration of difference, so embrace it and have a good time!” she said. “Don’t dream it, be it.”

“The Rocky Horror Show” will continue Nov. 17-19 at 7:30 p.m. and on Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.