Alpha Psi Omega beautifully horrifies in shadow cast


Chris Ferman

Augie students performing a shadowcast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Oct. 28.

Zach Blair

Last week, on the rainy Thursday night of Oct. 28, Augustana students were exposed to a shadow cast of the crazy, beautiful, insane, unfiltered “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Students were abuzz with excitement. The actors were wholly excited as well, perhaps even more than the students. This show represents an annual event given by members of Alpha Psi Omega, a theatre fraternity.

Since its release in 1975, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has become a cult classic film all over the world. The show is meant, I’m certain, to entertain, not inspire. But with that cult following, there have come many a shadow cast that perform each scene in front of the movie as it’s screened.

“From what I do know, it’s a show that’s just meant for the outcasts, the oddities, the people that don’t quite fit into what normal society has dictated,” junior Titus Jilderda said, who played the iconic Dr. Frank-N-Furter in last week’s shadow cast. “It’s so, so exciting to actually do what we’re doing and shape it into a fun, entertaining shadow cast. That’s why these things are supposed to be fun: they allow anyone to just let loose and embrace the weird.”

For everyone, it was fantastic to see it all come back after COVID-19 swept away the tradition for a year.

“It’s something that we all missed quite a bit,” senior Amy Nicholson said, who played the character of Janet Weiss in the shadow cast. “We did a zoom party where we streamed the movie altogether ─ but obviously, it’s not the same as going and watching it. It really is a huge thing.”

Nicholson wasn’t lying when she remarked at how big the show is. One could tell that students love it, too. When I attended the show in Brunner last week, the number of people who came absolutely astounded me.

It was hectic and chaotic at first. For example, as all the students who attended came into Brunner and if they had never seen the show, a giant “V” was drawn on their foreheads with lipstick ─ unfortunately, that included me.

Then, once again, the absolute absurdity of the show and what is expected of the audience hit me as hard as a bus. Audience participation was encouraged through shoutouts at various parts of the film. And, at several points, members of the shadow cast ran through the rows of people in attendance.

All throughout the show, people continued to scream funny phrases that would be parallel with a character’s dialogue. Encouraging cheers rang through the theater at iconic moments in the film. That was the charm of it all.

“Even if you’ve never been to a ‘Rocky Horror’ shadow cast before, your first time is so much fun,” senior Rebecca McNamar said, who played Magenta in the show. “And even if you don’t know what’s going on, it’s still a good time, because there are enough people who know what’s going on while they’re watching it.”

Overall, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was a pure delight for me, the actors and all students who came out to watch. The significance of this performance is in the laughs it brings and the representation it provides.

With the story, things may not follow a linear path, as the characters’ stories are so frenetic and jumbled. But I would say that the beauty in the show, especially with a shadow cast, is the experience and entertainment, not the accuracy or power of the story.