Rocky Horror experience continues to be Lakeland’s wildest Halloween celebration

Alyssa Baker
Staff Writer

On Saturday, Oct. 26, the curtain rose on a very different kind of Halloween production. Every year for the past nine years, Polk Theatre has been home to The Lipstick Players Production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show Experience, a hilarious, and somewhat odd, take on the average Halloween horror film.
Doors opened at 9 p.m. to fans of the 1975 film dressed in their best “Rocky Horror” wear. Everything from spikes, to a lot of glitter, and yes, even just plain old bras and panties were sported at the show.
Hailey Stuart, a Florida Southern student who was a cast member for the performance, said this year they wanted to attract a new kind of crowd.
“The biggest change we tried to make this year was bringing in a new crowd,” Stuart said. “So many people focus on the clothing that is worn at Rocky, or the sexual nature it implies, but what it comes down to is that it’s the one weekend a year where people don’t have to worry about how they look or who is judging them, because none of it matters.”
The ultimate “Rocky Horror Experience” began with a pre-show preformed by “The Butch Queen and the Reveretts.”
The band, which was made up of a cast of Rocky Horror cast members, played different alternative and classic rock songs to help get the audience excited to see the film and live adaptation. The band played everything from Meatloaf to “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse.
The pre show also included a “twerking” contest, a dance called “Rockapocalypse” which was put on by the Lipstick Players, and a “swearing in of the virgins,” a welcome for first timers to the experience.
“Before seeing the show, I expected people to be almost naked and I felt intimated and uncomfortable,” Gabby DeFrietas, a first timer to the show, said. “Once I got into the theatre and the pre-show started, it seemed really fun and entertaining and I ended up really enjoying it”.
The movie and live adaptation began shortly after, and the audience was nothing less than enthusiastic.
They truly got into the show – fans would scream out phrases and words that revolved around certain scenes and would even go as far as throwing rice and squirting water when appropriate for certain scenes. Of course, die-hard fan or not, almost everyone was out of their seats dancing when the “Time Warp” scene came on.
“It [the adaptation] was unique because I’ve never heard or seen of it being done before,” DeFrietas said. “The drag queens were my favorite part.”
The cast members participating in the adaptation were enthusiastic and honored to be part of such a thrilling production.
“The most rewarding thing about participating in Rocky was being a part of the team effort in performing with the production and everyone was awesome to work with,” junior Brittany Cowan-Reynolds, a first time cast member, said.
“We met our goals, put on a good show, and there were no major issues that took place during each one,” Stuart said. “Everybody walked away this year knowing we had made something bigger and better than before.”
Rocky Horror is definitely not the typical Halloween production, but it brings its own unique flare to the holiday and the Lipstick Players adaptation upholds the weirdness and craziness of the film.
“The great thing about Rocky Horror in general is that it is its very own thing with an almost cult like fan base,” Cowan-Reynolds said.
Fans are able to be something completely out of the ordinary and are able to strip away any insecurity about the way they dress for one night.
“That in itself is the most rewarding part of the show,” Stuart said. “Being able to not only perform, which is something that everyone in the cast loves, but that we created at least one moment in people’s years that left them feeling like they belonged in that crowd if not in any other.”