Taking a show that is known for its, ahem, campy closeness, and adjusting it for a pandemic-style of social distancing is a challenge that many theater companies decided not to attempt this fall season. While most regional productions of the Halloween-favorite Rocky Horror Picture Show are cancelled due to Covid-19, the folks at Stage Right Theatre Company are hoisting up a big top tent in their theater parking lot and preparing for a version of the show that will look slightly different from the past 20 seasons they have brought it to the stage.
Instead of tight rows of theater seats, patrons will be handed their chairs as they arrive and asked to cluster with their groups in a socially distant manner. Audience members have to wear a mask whenever they are not seated, and performers must mask up when they are not onstage. Outside props that cult fans bring like rice, newspapers, and party hats, will have to be bought onsite to make sure fans are only throwing the cleanest of goods at the actors– part of the interactive tradition of the show. As for the actors, there is way less touching than in a non-pandemic performance, and when there is, actors use gloves or hand sanitize the moment they come offstage.
Stage manager Anna Steward, who also plays the role of Columbia in the show, said she and her friends aren’t worried about the limits on the notoriously Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touchy production. “We are just thrilled that we get to perform at all … the minor adjustments don’t really mean a lot when we’re the few people in our industry who even get to do something right now. It’s really cool what we’ve created.”
The company will stage “The Rocky Horror Show Live” for a limited crowd of 200 per performance on Oct. 23, 24, 30, 31 at 8pm.