By Ambar Ramirez
It’s that magical time of year when the air gets a touch crisper, and suddenly everyone thinks it’s OK to break out their cozy sweaters and strut their stuff in boots. First Coast Pride descends upon us with all the flair of a Broadway musical, complete with parades and glitter galore. Our screens light up with spine-tingling scares that make us jump, squeal and then question our life choices. But hold on to your broomsticks, folks, because the pièce de résistance is the spook-tacular Halloween treat at the end of the month!
Now, I’d be content with just Halloween and Pride events, but October, being the overachiever it is, also treats us to the legendary film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Mark your calendars for Oct. 28 at the Florida Theatre, where the cult classic will have you doing the “Time Warp” again and again and again.
When the film first came out in 1975, it wasn’t celebrated as much as it is now. In his review at the time, legendary film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 2½ stars saying, “[It] would be more fun, I suspect, if it weren’t a picture show. It belongs on a stage with the performers and audience joining in a collective send-up.” It seems that Ebert’s criticism had a huge impact as that is exactly what a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” now consists of.
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill “let’s watch a movie at a theatre” experience; this is a gathering of the community for the community. It’s an interactive experience, where viewers become immersed into the 1970s and get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a part of a cult classic.
This is also the first show back at the Florida Theatre after its recent renovations.
“It is kind of ironic that we’re spending $8 million this summer on improving the theater, and the first thing we’re going to do is throw toilet paper and confetti everywhere,”said Numa Saisselin, president of the Florida Theatre. “The thing we are most looking forward to is showing the public what we have always known the Florida Theatre could be: even better and even more beautiful.”
In addition to the screening, local rockers Annie Dukes will perform. The Jacksonville-based, female-led band is looking forward to the show, especially because of the film.
“‘Rocky Horror’ has no boundaries. It is inclusive, sexy, edgy and all around an experience. We love that this movie really embodies owning your individualism and uniqueness,” band members said. “As a band, we always want to represent all those things so it is a huge honor to open the night.”
The members of Annie Dukes pride themselves on their live performances as it not only gives them a chance to share their music, but also gives them a chance to connect with their audience. And what better show than Rocky Horror Picture Show to do just that.
“We are most looking forward to being home off tour and walking onto the iconic stage of the Florida Theatre to see a crowd as intense as ‘Rocky Horror’ fans,” they shared. “For Annie Dukes, this will be the most epic homecoming we’ve ever had!” They’re even throwing in a little Halloween-inspired song for the occasion.
And it wouldn’t be a true Florida Theatre “Rocky Horror” experience without the hostess with the mostest and Queen of Comedy Karrissa Wade. This is the 10th year of the show at the Florida Theatre and each year Wade hosts it, and there’s a reason for that.
“The show, to me, is about breaking the norm. Being eccentric. It was shocking and way before its time,” Wade shared. “I think it pushed society’s views on what the norm is. It’s campy, funny and witty. What drag queen doesn’t like good camp?”
The theater is encouraging all who attend to bring props and to show up in their most camp costumes. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is all about “don’t dream it, be it” and for decades viewers have dressed up in their most outrageous outfits becoming who they’ve always wanted to be.
“The costumes each year are amazing seeing so many variations of the characters. We even have character costume contest at the theatre,” Wade said. “It’s amazing to see the twist on characters people do. What’s also incredible is people come in unique outrageous costumes that aren’t from the movie. Each year I create a new bold costume to host the show in.”
And if you’re feeling uninspired, may I suggest you show up in the character from the picture-show you most identify with? Or the character you want to be. This is your chance to break out of the mold and be your most authentic self. “Rocky Horror” and the Florida Theatre wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I most identify with the character Frank-N-Furter. They are bold, non-apologetic and larger than life. I relate to them because all of my life I’ve been pushed to fit into a certain mold. Told to fit in and be a certain way,” Wade shared. “I love being boisterous and larger than life. And their character is just that. I just don’t tend to bust out into song often and am still trying to figure out how to create the perfect man. ‘Oh, Rocky,’”
If you haven’t already, make sure to buy tickets on floridatheatre.com. And needless to say, if you don’t show up in costume or bring props, I’ll be disappointed. But not as disappointed as you’ll be when you realize you missed out on this unpredictable interactive experience.
“If you have never been to a “Rocky Horror Picture” showing, you are in for a treat. It’s definitely something to mark off your bucket list and you’ll most likely become ‘a Rocky,’” Wade said. “This cult classic will leave you energized. Come say hello and take a pic. Tell them ‘Folio’ sent you.”