Leave it to Yale students to rehearse for a night of spontaneous drunken nudity.
This Saturday at midnight, after two weeks of rehearsal, a mostly veteran cast will put a Yale spin on the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
“It’s kind of ridiculous how much work we put into this considering how drunk we’ll be,” said Po Chen ’04, who plays Rocky.
But rehearsals are not all work and no play. Fredo Silva ’04, who plays Dr. Frank-N-Furter, said he thought non-cast members are often oblivious to the amount of the preparation that goes into the show, run annually by the Yale Film Society.
“People don’t realize we rehearse for two weeks before the show, for two to four hours a night that we’re usually drunk during,” Silva said.
But this year, Silva said, rehearsals have been mostly sober. And the new rehearsal atmosphere has had its advantages.
“Rehearsals have been going a lot faster,” he said.
Joseph Bono ’05, who plays Eddie, and producer Katrina Whalen ’04 have also received compliments on their organizational skills.
The show involves three components, so coordinating them can be complicated at times. While the movie plays, performers act it out in a floor show in front. Also present is a group of roving Transylvanians, or “Trannies.” Trannie headmaster Mary Pitt ’04 described her minions as “healthy rabble rousers.”
“Our stage direction is, ‘run amok,'” Pitt said.
The audience is encouraged to participate as well by yelling “call backs” — one-liners responding to the movie. While some call backs are traditional, the cast promises the Trannies will have a few Yale-related call backs, too.
“It’s fun because they’re things that Yalies get,” Jacque Farber ’03 said.
But Farber had a word of caution for “virgins,” as first-time “Rocky” viewers are called.
“If you’re offended by things that are not politically correct, it’s not for you,” Farber said.
Whalen said she hopes this year’s cancellation of Exotic Erotic, traditionally an “outlet for Yale sexuality,” will help “Rocky” seduce more members of the Yale community.
“It’s an excuse for Yale to get drunk and really naked,” Chen said.
But last year’s crowd might be tough to beat.
“Last year we had the whole place packed to the gills,” Whalen said.
Bono, too, has fond memories of last year’s performance, which featured a “victorious and somewhat inebriated women’s rugby team” eager to dance on tables.
“That’s the sort of thing we’d like to encourage,” Bono said.
Audience members need not be veterans and Whalen said “Rocky” virgins sometimes join the cast, too.
“Unsuspecting victims show up the night of the info session and get sucked in,” Whalen said.
Whalen, a native of Wyoming, was one such victim. She said she did not think “Rocky” had ever been shown in theater inside Wyoming state lines.
But the cast contains some seasoned “Rocky” veterans. Bono said he began participating in performances of the show when he was in high school because of his “unnatural obsession with” and close physical resemblance to Meatloaf, who plays Eddie in the movie.
“I was a good match for Eddie because they didn’t have any sexy fat guys,” he said.
Brad Rosen ’04, who, coincidentally, plays Brad, said he was a “Rocky” fan in high school. But he said he did not participate last year because he had a ballroom dance competition the day of the performance. Rosen said he will attend the same competition this year but will return in time for the show.
“It’s kind of weird knowing that I’ll be travelling across state lines to do ‘Rocky,'” Rosen said.
While Rosen is new to the production, Bono said most of the cast tends to return from year to year. Bono played Eddie and Dr. Scott in last year’s production and will return as Eddie this year.
In part because so many cast members return year after year, Bono said the show — famous for “sacrificing” “Rocky” virgins — has no initiation ritual for performers.
“When you think about it, initiation is all about making people do things they’re uncomfortable doing, and really, this cast isn’t uncomfortable with much,” Bono said.
Rosen called his fellow performers “normal in their own way.”
“I would probably find them all weirder if I hadn’t known them prior to the show,” he said.