UNC Pauper Players has found a way to bring the Halloween tradition of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" back to students and the Chapel Hill community in a safe way, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, the group will be remotely recording and creating a music video for one of the movie’s most iconic numbers, “Time Warp.” The video will be available through the Pauper Players' social media starting on Halloween.
“That really encourages a lot of people who connect with Rocky's message and want to share the positivity of being yourself and expressing yourself in the way that you feel most comfortable,” said Maria Cade, executive director of production for Pauper Players.
Pauper Players has been presenting the fall favorite since 2015. They perform as a shadow cast, where the movie plays behind cast members acting out the scenes as they happen. The group performed it as a mainstage production in 2012, said Cade.
Cade said they originally canceled the show, along with a production “The Mystery of Edwin Drood," because of the public health safety risk.
“The general consensus of the theater community, and the Chapel Hill community as well, was everyone was really sad about it,” Cade said. “Obviously, this show means a lot to so many people, and it's now become a Chapel Hill staple for Halloween.”
The idea for a music video came from Alex Baker, the orchestral coordinator and video editor for the music video.
“Since 'Rocky Horror' is just a big tradition at UNC, we wanted to make sure that people still have the opportunity to do the Time Warp again,'” Baker said.
Baker said he was involved in "Rocky" his first year and didn’t know much about the show. He said it was hard coming to Chapel Hill as a first-year and not knowing a lot of people, but "Rocky" provided an amazing experience.
“Doing 'Rocky' is something that is out of a lot of people's comfort zones,” Baker said. “So doing something like that and pushing yourself, and having such a really supportive group of friends, a really great production staff really, helps bring a lot of people out of their shell.”
Those interested in being a part of the music video were able to sign up on the Pauper Player’s website. The cast features former "Rocky Horror" cast members and production staff members.
“A lot of people who audition for the show aren’t in theater, actually, they just love the message and they want to share that and they want to have an outlet to express themselves and be comfortable in themselves,” Cade said. “'Rocky' has provided that for so many people.”
With the opportunity for former cast members to relive this experience through this year’s video, executive member and former choreographer Taylor Mayes said she thinks it is a nice way to recap the shows that Pauper Players has done.
“We're still doing the best that we can and Rocky’s still going on in our hearts during this Halloween season,” Mayes said.
Mayes said that when she began as the choreographer for the show, she didn’t know what she was getting herself into. But she quickly fell in love with the experience.
“It really gets in people's souls, and I will be forever grateful for my experience with 'Rocky,'” Mayes said. “I hate that we won't have it this year, but I'm hoping to come back and watch future years, and keep it going.”
Baker said productions being canceled or moved to a virtual format has brought the opportunity for experiences like seeing new shows and using new ways to put out entertaining content.
“The cool thing about theater is it doesn't just have to be live in front of an audience," Baker said. "We really embrace the kind of the aspects of theater that we weren't really good at before."
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