‘Rocky Horror’ returns to Mill

09-21-09 Rocky Horror
Ezra performs his role as Riff Raff at the first screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Mill Avenue in close to a decade.(Branden Eastwood | The State Press)
Published On:
Monday, September 21, 2009
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After more than a decade away from Mill Avenue, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” returned to a welcoming sold-out audience Friday night at MADCAP Theatre.

Hundreds of self-proclaimed “freaks” flooded MADCAP, some dressed as their favorite “Rocky” character, others donned their best naughty schoolgirl outfit (the theme of Friday’s show) and the rest came as they were.

People started lining up around 7 p.m., even though the show wasn’t scheduled to start until 11 p.m., and steadily stretched from the second floor of MADCAP into the plaza off Mill Avenue.

At around 11:30 p.m., everyone was seated and the preshow got underway.

Matthew Yenkala, cast founder and producer, took the stage, expressing his gratitude for being back on Mill Avenue and his appreciation for the loyalty of the fans.

Yenkala read the show disclaimers to regulars and uninitiated first-timers, or “virgins,” reiterating that the “show deals with mature subject matter in an immature way.”

The crowd shouted amiable insults and vulgarities at the preshow hosts and once the movie started, the audience participated in a never-ending banter of callback lines with the onscreen dialogue.

The shadow cast, consisting of actors and actresses designated a role from the movie, reenacted every scene of the film on the stage below the screen.

During the musical numbers some members of the audience sang along, and at one point everyone got out of their seats to dance the “Time Warp.”
The show’s original run on Mill Avenue was at Valley Art Theatre from 1978 to 1982, and more recently from 1991 to 1999.

Because of the Valley Art’s renovation plans, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was forced to leave the theater and Mill Avenue after its last show on April 9, 1999.

Yenkala has been involved with “Rocky” for several decades and is one of the people responsible for Friday’s reunion of “Rocky” and Mill Avenue.

“There are so many people for whom ‘Rocky Horror’ and Mill Avenue are two things that should always be connected,” Yenkala said. “So this is really a big deal.”

Christopher McCullough, an ASU graduate, said he is ecstatic about the show’s return to Mill Avenue. McCullough was an audience member at Valley Art and is now executive director of the show.

John Coventry, a cast member, is excited the entire production has the opportunity to perform again.

“I wasn’t with the cast when they were last on Mill, but I’ve always heard great stories and I’m glad we’re back,” Coventry said.

Ever since “Rocky” left the Valley Art Theatre, the production has resided in several theatres throughout the Valley, most recently Chandler Cinemas.

In June Chandler Cinemas was forced to close, putting “Rocky” on hiatus until it found a new home.

Andrea Beasley-Brown, one of Yenkala’s key staff members at Chandler Cinemas, landed a job at MADCAP Theatre during the summer.

“She and I already had a working relationship, and she knew that ‘Rocky’ needed a home,” Yenkala said. “It was a matter of a couple of phone calls.”

Yenkala said the future of “Rocky” on Mill Avenue is still undetermined.

There are three more shows scheduled at MADCAP in October: the 9th, and the 30th and 31st on Halloween weekend. Nothing beyond that has been finalized.

Jacqueline Chikos, a music freshman, has been attending “Rocky” shows since December and like many other “Rocky” devotees is optimistic about its stay on Mill Avenue.

“In Chandler we were kind of tucked away into a corner, but back on Mill we’re out where we should be,” Chikos said.

Reach the reporter at brian.bahe@asu.edu.