The Horror at Tampa Theatre

Rocky Horror Picture Show isn’t just famous for its transvestites, time warps and being Susan Sarandon’s first and only musical film. It’s also famous for being one of the most performed shows ever, not to mention the film’s seemingly infinite theater run.

This particular Halloween’s production of RHPS will take place at the Tampa Theatre. Directed by Brian Dare, the show is in its ninth annual production.

Just like most of the cast and crew, Dare has been involved in the RHPS community for years. He started out as a local fan club representative in 1989 and performed at his first show in 1992.

The previous director of the Tampa Theatre production found out about him and called Dare to see if he wanted to help out.

“I’ve been with the show since the beginning and I did whatever was needed,” Dare said.

One of the Transylvanian characters when he started, Dare eventually settled in the role of lead criminologist, which is his current part in the show.

Open auditions are held each year for the Tampa Theatre’s RHPS performance. Since Rocky Horror is a counter culture piece, many people interested are already involved in the weekly productions at Beach Theater in St. Petersburg. But the organizers continue to send e-mails through alternative and cult movie Web sites to gather more responses.

The show itself is an experience like no other. It’s a combination of cinema and theater, since the movie actually plays in the background screen while the actors perform on the stage.

“(The show) is like air guitar to the movie,” Dare said. “It produces a strange 3-D effect. It’s like the movie coming to life in front of (the audience).”

The Tampa Theatre show, as opposed to the weekly shows in St. Petersburg, has been carefully choreographed to closely match the actors in the film behind them.

Traci Hearn, playing Columbia, has been in the Tampa Theatre show for the past three years. The fact that she lip-synchs the words to the film’s actors behind her doesn’t bother her at all.

“When you’re acting, you can put a little bit of yourself in the character,” she said. “Here (you have to) become your character completely and mimic all their moves.”

Besides the screen and live actor relationship, there is also the relationship between the live cast and the audience.

The movie has a sort of an alternate script, where the lines for the audience are penciled in between the lines of the screenplay. The performers anticipate this audience participation.

“We can’t (predict the audience participation), but we look forward to it,” Dare said. “Sometimes, we even demand it. We want people to be loud and encourage them (to participate).”

Many alternate audience participation versions of the original script include props, which are welcomed by Tampa Theatre (with the exception of rice, water guns and hot dogs).

The cast is devoted to the movie in many aspects. Each cast member has, at one time or another, participated in the weekly shows. Also, all actors have made their costumes themselves.

“The money they make from tips and part of the profits of the show doesn’t even come close to what they spent,” Dare said. “They don’t do this for money. They do this because they want to.”

Rocky Horror Picture Show will play on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at the Tampa Theatre. The doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors, students and military. The film is rated R; no one under 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.