46 Years Later, Musical Comedy Horror Film To Be Screened At ETH
For the first time in its history, Edmond Town Hall (ETH) is planning screenings of a musical comedy horror cult classic that was not exactly a box office smash upon its initial release 46 years ago.
The theater within the historic building at 45 Main Street will offer showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, October 15-17. Costumes and audience participation are highly encouraged.
The organizers of the special event believe Mary Hawley, whose financial gift to Newtown allowed the construction of the town hall building in 1930, would have loved what they are planning for the weekend.
“I think she’d love it,” Belle Phelps said Tuesday afternoon. “She was cool. She was definitely about bringing the community together, and this is definitely going to do that.”
Phelps and Kat Moran were in one of the meeting rooms of the town hall on October 12, filling prop bags ahead of this weekend’s planned event. Five screenings are scheduled, with shows on Friday and Saturday, October 15 and 16, at 7 and 9:30 pm; and Sunday, October 17, at 7.
Advance ticket sales are going very well. The public can purchase tickets, and have the option of also prepurchasing prop bags, which include a newspaper, sponge, rubber glove, party hat, noisemaker, glow stick, confetti, and toilet paper.
Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in August 1975, and was largely critically panned.
The film is based on the musical of the same name written by Richard O’Brien, who plays Riff Raff — A Handyman. It also features Tim Curry, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Jonathan Adams, Peter Hinwood, Meat Loaf, and Charles Gray.
The following year, however, a midnight screening was done on April Fool’s Day in Greenwich Village and the movie took on an entirely new life with a graduating, and now multigenerational, global fan base.
Midnight screenings across the country began drawing audiences who participated in the shows by responding to dialogue and action on the screen, and dressing as characters. Throwing props at appropriate times added another dimension to the film’s cult popularity.
Whether new or a returning audience member for Rocky Horror, Moran and Phelps say all audience members will be taken care of this weekend.
“One of the things that happens at some of the live shows,” Moran said, “is a shadow cast, who dress up as the characters, act out some of the scenes, and lead the use of the props.”
A shadow cast is planned for the two late shows on Friday and Saturday, Moran said. Notes within each prop bag will also help novice audience members know when and how to use each prop.
More than 150 prop bags have already been ordered for this weekend, the women said this week. They have been filling them for days, making sure each has the promised items and a note on when and how to use each. They expect to fill at least 200 by the time Friday’s first screening begins.
Those planning to attend any of this weekend’s shows should note that while some items have traditionally been used during the live shows, Edmond Town Hall is not including — nor allowing the use of — the following items: lighters, candles, and open flames of any kind; rice, toast, hot dogs, or prunes; and water pistols.
At Home At ETH
Moran and Phelps have worked at the town hall for four years.
Moran, 22, began as a Friday night manager; Phelps, 20, started as a projectionist. While both have moved up to administrative positions at ETH, each is also attending school. Phelps is attending Toni & Guy, where she is studying to become a cosmetologist. Moran is studying art and communications at WestConn.
Both have grown up in and still live in Newtown. They have plenty of memories of going to movies at the same theater for which they are now planning special events.
“I have a lot of great memories of Edmond Town Hall,” Phelps said. “I think if you ask anyone in town, their best memories were going to Edmond for $3 movies.”
Moran agreed, recalling how she and friends would often end up at the town hall for Friday night movies a few hours after they had been dismissed from school.
One the reasons they have been planning special events like the Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings, they said, is to begin building more memories for residents of all ages. They began a wish list early last year of the movies they would like to see screened at ETH. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, they said, was near the top of that list.
“I’m looking forward to a lot of people being dressed up and excited for the movies,” Moran said, stuffing party hats into paper bags laid on a table within ETH’s Mary Hawley Room. Next to her, Phelps was carefully folding newspaper into quarters so that they too could be added to the bags.
“I’m excited for Edmond to be recognized again, as a venue space and a place for movies and shows,” Phelps added. “I think with COVID, people may have forgotten about us. We really want to re-establish ourselves as open.”
Tickets for the October 15-17 screenings are $10 each, and can be purchased at the box office ahead of each screening or in advance at edmondtownhall.org. The theater is strongly encouraging advance ticket purchases.
Ticket-prop bag combo tickets are $16 in advance. Remaining bags, if available, will be sold for $8 each prior to each screening.
Beer and wine will be available for purchase for the October 16 shows.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show has a running time of 1 hour, 40 minutes, and is rated R. Guests will be expected to follow COVID-19 guidelines in place.
For more information call 203-270-4285 or visit edmondtownhall.org.
Associate Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.