‘Rocky Horror’ holds last performance in Montclair
By GWEN OREL
They won’t be doing the time warp again.
Not at the Bellevue Theatre anyway.
Home of Happiness has been presenting its interactive “Rocky Horror Picture Show” there on Saturday nights since 2003, but this past Saturday was the group’s final show there, as the Bellevue has closed.
“It was amazing,” said Larry Viezel, casting director for Home of Happiness (homeofhappiness.com). Viezel has also written, with Sal Piro, “The Rocky Horror Treasury: A Tribute to the Cult Classic.” At last Saturday’s show, he said, “There were a whole bunch of people there who had never seen the movie.” Newbies are called “virgins” in Rocky Horror lingo. Viezel brought them onstage to teach them some of the history of Rocky Horror in Montclair, and about the movie, before the show began.
That history includes starting at the now closed The Screening Zone in 1999, before Clearview offered them the Bellevue. They fixed up the upstairs space, though due to falling plaster haven’t performed there since August.
The 1975 movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” based on the 1973 musical, became a “midnight movie” at the Waverly Theater in 1976, and became a cult classic, with audience participation and lip-syncing.
Callbacks to the screen are timed to the action: for example, during a wedding scene, the audience throws rice. When the character Frankenfurter says “a toast,” the audience throws toast at the screen.
Costumed performers also enact some of the movie in front of the screen.
At the final show at the Bellevue, cast alumni appeared who had joined when the troupe moved from the Screening Zone, which closed, to the Bellevue.
“I remember being onstage. I said, ‘I’m not gonna cry, I’m not gonna cry,’” Viezel said. Then he saw someone who had met her future husband there, and had just had a baby.
“That’s what got me. ‘Rocky Horror,’ this place in particular, affected her life in such a way. It made a difference in people’s lives beyond a fun movie.
“I took my wife on our first date to see ‘Rocky’ at that theater,” Viezel said.
The Bellevue upstairs space is the best place he’d ever seen for “Rocky Horror,” he said. The company built a flat stage in front of the screen, and were able to use an adjoining theater as a dressing room.
The group had just a few days to load up 14years of memories and move, he said, but he’s grateful Bow Tie allowed them their final shows.
Bow Tie has offered the group the use of the Caldwell Cinema, and they will be there sometime in the new year. Viezel
has been performing in “Rocky Horror” since 1992, and is determined to keep “Rocky Horror” going in Northern New Jersey.
But Viezel is sad to leave Montclair. “It is just the right town for it,” he said. “It wasn’t too highbrow for what we were doing. It’s a very cultured town.
“We’re the mold in the culture. Every culture needs its mold.”