TUPS continues annual “Rocky Horror Picture Show” tradition

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Jude Casanova (left) leads the cast in a dance number Photo credit: Kate Nuelle

photo by Kate Nuelle

The musical comedy horror film Rocky Horror Picture Show has become a Trinity Halloween tradition that students look forward to year after year. This year, the Trinity University Players (TUPS) is maintaining this tradition by putting on an in-person performance of Rocky that abides by Trinity’s safety guidelines, and they hope it brings some Halloween fun to Trinity.

To ensure a safe performance, director and senior Rachel Morris implemented a shadow-cast performance, meaning the movie is played in the background while the cast silently mimics what is happening and assigned each performer two roles rather than one in order to meet social distancing requirements.

“We started rehearsing at the beginning of the month. Since most of us are theater kids, we have other rehearsals. It’s a very hectic and busy time of year, but everyone kind of rallies because it’s ultimately worth it,” Morris said. “It has been fun coordinating when people should enter and exit and switch into their alternate characters.”

With a shadow-cast and double-cast performance, the TUPS Rocky crew has had to practice hard to perfectly match the movie to secure an accurate in-person performance.

“Our actors are really killing it. Most of them are first years, so they’ve never even done the production before. They are excited for it and are all playing two characters each, so they have twice as much things to do, but they’ve done it amazingly, and the production is really good. They adapted very well to COVID,” said junior Wren Ramos, who is in charge of the marketing aspect of the production.

Senior Judit Casanova, who is playing both Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Rocky, has been involved in Trinity’s Rocky performance for all four years of her college experience.

“For the first two years, I was in the chorus. Last year, I directed the show. And now I’m playing one of the core characters. Frank is a character I have always wanted to play and I’m super happy to be playing them both. It’s really hard switching between them, but it’s still exciting to figure it out.” said Casanova.

Another challenge the performers experienced was finding a way to mimic and express actions requiring physical contact. However, this has allowed the crew to find unique and unexpected ways to express themselves.

“There’s a lot of scenes where the actors have to be in close contact with each other. They had to find different ways to show that connection with each other. So, you know, it’s hard to act sexy whenever you’re not allowed to be very close, and you’re both wearing masks,” said Ramos.

“This production has been a satisfying physical puzzle that we’re all getting to figure out as we rehearse. Rocky’s a super physical show, so making COVID friendly has been the hardest part,” said Casanova. “There’s a scene in Rocky where the characters are all in a pool, and it’s basically like a pool orgy, where they’re just moving around and touching each other. What we’re doing is like flow-y movements around each other, so that it looks like we’re in water. It’s really fun, and we’ve had to think about new ways to do things.”

Although this year’s production of Rocky has called for a re-envisioning of how it is traditionally performed, it has given the crew members the opportunity to still share their passion and appreciation for the show.

“I watched the production for the first time here at Trinity. After that, I was like, ‘I’m a theater major.’ It was that influential,” said Ramos. “I’m feeling proud about being able to get word out that TUPS is doing something different. Rocky is a very valuable show because it shows a lot of things important to college students, like freedom over your own body and not judging sex.”

“Rocky is a historically and socially important film. There’s a lot of outdated things in there that we try to debunk for the audience in terms of language and displayed behaviors, but a lot of it is queer representation that you don’t really see,” said Ramos.

If you’re on campus, make sure to RSVP for their October 30th or 31st 10:30 PM show at the Intramural Field. The show is going to be broadcast through Zoom as well.

Follow TUPS’ Instagram @tups_official for more information about upcoming performances throughout the year.