The final product of a musical production is what the audience gets to see. The lights that highlight each actor’s brilliant theatrical expressions, the stunning makeup, and the expressive costumes represent the tip of the “theatrical” iceberg. For this production, every single member of the production team had a job to do for the previous weeks, if not months. This is work that no audience member sees. As an actor in this production, I understand that a lot of what we do “behind the scenes” is never seen. That’s why I’ve chosen to share a bit of the rehearsal process for “The Rocky Horror Show.”
The first day of musical rehearsal always comes with a read-through of the script and a discussion with the director. This day is always important to build community and confidence in the piece. “As a freshman, making friends is one of the things that everybody struggles with in the beginning of the semester, but this was such a brilliant way to meet people that enjoyed the same things I did in an environment that was fun and creative […] we all have the same goals,” said Ella Douma ’26, who plays a phantom in the production.
This sense of community is so important to theater and its process because you work with the same group of people for a couple months. We were also fortunate enough to have an intimacy director who furthered that sense of community and established a culture of consent around the sexual content of the show. “The Rocky Horror Show” is slightly risqué with some scenes that would be difficult to portray on stage without that extra help. “It was really reassuring to know that we had this support system there to make sure everyone was comfortable,” Douma said.
In addition to working as a team, we had to keep in mind what our purpose was as actors and individuals of the St. Olaf community. “I think this show is just about fully accepting who you are, even if who you are is the weirdest, strangest combination of personality and style choices ever,” Douma described. Similarly, Jack Moody ’23, playing Brad Majors, said: “I think it’s just a show that has such a great message of self-acceptance. The reason why I think it’s lasted so long is because of that message and I think it’s more applicable than ever today, especially on a college campus of young people figuring out their identities.”
Throughout the process, we also had to remember that we were performing this show for an audience. It was important that each of us had something we wanted the audience to take away. For Moody, it was Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s iconic line, “Don’t dream it, be it.” Douma’s goal was for the audience to have fun! As a crew, we had to find a way to combine all of those goals together and create our message. I believe that we succeeded.
“The Rocky Horror Show” has three more performances this weekend: Friday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 19 at 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. The Saturday matinée is a sensory-reduced experience, so strobe lights, haze, and house lighting will be altered. I would like to highlight that the 10:00 p.m. showing on Saturday, meant to simulate a “midnight screening” of “The Rocky Horror Show,” will be an experience like no other.