Harvard Square getting twice the ‘Rocky Horror’
If you were wondering where the world headquarters of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was, wonder no more: It’s Harvard Square, where the cult film continues to play weekly 36 years after its release date and will be joined Oct. 14 by a live show at the Oberon performance space.
Although a “Rocky Horror”-themed episode of “Glee” last year and subsequent cast album might have given a bit of a bump in the number of fans trekking weekly to showings of the film, which are famed for their audience participation, it is, by now, a self-generating phenomenon. (And a remake has been rumored for years. Some people never learn.)
As a live musical satire of cheesy horror films and celebration of 1974-era sexual liberation, it was a success, but as a 1975 movie meant to be sedately watched and enjoyed on its own merits, by all rights it could have and should have died with its poor reviews and almost universally bad reception in theaters. Within a year of its September premiere, though, “Rocky Horror” was revived as a midnight movie drawing endless hordes of leather-clad misfits seeking a community — mainly of high school and college age, making the decades-old Saturday night showings at the AMC Loews Harvard Square 5 a natural. Not only is the square the back yard of Harvard, Lesley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology students; it lures kids from surrounding towns such as Arlington for whom escape from the suburbs is just a trudge, bike or bus ride away.
In the movie, a strait-laced pair of virgins played by Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon are enjoyably defiled when they stumble across a castle full of deviants led by omnisexual scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter, played by a louche but understandably seductive Tim Curry. By the end of the movie, everyone has screwed everyone and they’re wearing fishnets (and singing) while they do it. Participation compels high school or college first-years into fetishistic, free-love territory many probably couldn’t have imagined just weeks earlier, and pretty soon they might be wearing fishnets as well and crooning the anthemic “Don’t dream it, be it.”
Powerful stuff, which is why, according to the Cinema Treasures blog, “Rocky Horror” has shown at the AMC Loews regularly since 1984 (moved when another Harvard Square theatre closed), and the first U.S. live performance took place there as well. A troupe called Full Body Cast keeps the tradition alive.
The Oberon version is brought to life by the Gold Dust Orphans, a Boston/Provincetown theater company infamous for raucous shows such as “Phantom of the Oprah” and “Joan of Arkansas.”
The show is scheduled for Fridays through December, which means those inspired by the live version can return the next night for the Full Body Cast take played along with the film.