‘Rocky’ brings tricks and treats to the Oriental

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show" has been running at the Oriental Theatre since 1978. Photo courtesy of sensualdaydreams.com.

This Halloween weekend, if you’re looking for an opportunity to dress in drag, yell profanities, throw toilet paper rolls and belt out “Time Warp” with hundreds of other rowdy, obscene, potentially drunken strangers — well, you can probably find that just about anywhere.

But if you want to do that without getting arrested, then you’d better head to the Oriental Theatre to catch their annual Halloween performance of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

This nearly indescribable movie tells the tale of newly engaged couple Brad and Janet, who find themselves lost  with a flat tire on a cold, rainy November evening. Seeking help, the couple discovers the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a bizarre, self-proclaimed transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania, who weaves them into his world of sexualized madness.

According to the Oriental Theatre’s website, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has played there as a midnight film since January 1978, a world record for both current and continuing film engagement. “Rocky” is now screened every second Saturday of the month, in addition to a special Halloween showing.

Most screenings of “Rocky” aren’t complete without a shadow cast, and the Oriental’s show is no different. Jerry Dunk, the director of Sensual Daydreams, Milwaukee’s “Rocky” shadow cast for over 14 years, said a shadow cast performs a movie as it is being played on a screen.

Dunk, who plays Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the show, said the cast currently consists of thirteen members — a number that fluctuates frequently. But while their numbers may waver, Dunk said their devotion does not: As an all-volunteer cast, the members of Sensual Daydreams are die-hard “Rocky” regulars.

Dunk said he’s partial to the way Sensual Daydreams performs the show because of the cast’s commitment to accuracy.

“We try to do the show very well, but we also try to have fun,” Dunk said. “There are some casts who are perfectionists and who do not vary anything from show to show. Other casts goof off and don’t care about what’s happening on the screen.”

This accuracy comes from a devoted cast, whose members pay out of pocket in order to perfect their costumes and props for each performance, according to Dunk.

Dunk said this devotion reaches its epitome at the Halloween performance, when the cast tries to perform their very best.

Ashley Vytlacil, a Sensual Daydreams member since 2002 who currently plays the role of Janet, said the Halloween crowd is bigger, crazier and much more energetic than at any other show throughout the year.

Vytlacil said the Halloween show includes extra fun and games in addition to the fishnet-wearing, profanity-yelling, toast-throwing, water-gun squirting normalcy that is common to “Rocky.” Extras include a Halloween costume contest and a Rocky Horror character costume contest.

Jen Meverden, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said her “Rocky” Halloween experience two years ago caught her completely off guard.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” Meverden said. “I wasn’t expecting the costumes and games. … It was a whole different atmosphere than I could have ever expected.”

According to Dunk, its novelty keeps “Rocky” alive.

“There’s something in (“Rocky”) that reaches a lot of people in some way or another,” Dunk said.

Vytlacil said the message of Rocky can be summed up from one line at the end of the movie: “Don’t dream it, be it.”

She said “Rocky” is a place you can come and be whoever you want without any judgment, and when the show is over, you can go back living life as usual.

“It’s about not being who everybody else wants you to be,” Vytlacil said. “When you come to “Rocky,” you’re just you, and that’s it.”

The Oriental Theatre is located at 2230 N Farwell Ave. Doors to the Oct. 31 showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” open at 11:30pm. Tickets are $9.50, or $8 with student ID. For additional info, call 414-276-8711.