November 18, 2019

Backstage at the Egyptian: Elliot Lubicz of Irrational Masters

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 musical horror comedy film by 20th Century Fox, produced by Lou Adler and Michael White and directed by Jim Sharman. The film is based on the 1973 musical stage production The Rocky Horror Show, with music, book, and lyrics by Richard O’Brien. The production is a parody tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the 1930s through to the early 1960s. The story centers on a young engaged couple whose car breaks down in the rain near a castle where they seek a telephone to call for help. The castle or country home is occupied by strangers in elaborate costumes celebrating an annual convention. They discover the head of the house is Dr. Frank N. Furter, an apparently mad scientist who is actually an alien transvestite who creates a living muscle man in his laboratory. The couple are seduced separately by the mad scientist and eventually released by the servants who take control. 

*Interview conducted with Elliot Lubicz (23, they/them), Irrational Masters assistant director, and conducted by Brooklynn Gosnell, Marketing & Communications Intern

(Brooklynn) How long has Irrational Masters been performing Rocky Horror Picture Show as a shadow cast?

(Elliot) Our cast was formed in 2011. Right before I joined, the cast changed its name in 2015 to what it is today, the Irrational Masters! 

(Brooklynn) Why do you feel as though Rocky has become such an iconic staple for so many theater fans?

(Elliot) I think it’s become a staple because of how unique the experience is. It’s not your typical theater show. Every Rocky show I’ve seen or participated in (whether it be the actual production, or just a shadow-casted version of the film) has been different. On top of just being a weird and fun show, there’s the potential for something to be switched up every time, like seeing an actor take on a different role and seeing their spin on it, or having a themed show. The audience is fully immersed and encouraged to participate and become a part of the show from beginning to end, rather than just watching. And of course, nobody can resist jumping up for the Time Warp, no matter where it’s being played! 

(Brooklynn) How does performing Rocky as a shadow cast alter the experience rather than if the piece were just to be shown on screen? 

(Elliot) Seeing the characters actually there in front of you in real time, and getting to dress up, shout, and throw props during the movie are some things that definitely make this a much cooler experience. It’s like two shows in one, plus you get to be a part of the action. It’s so different when all the characters are surrounding you, dancing with you, and fully immersing you into the movie. 

(Brooklynn) How does performing in a historical theatre such as The Egyptian Theatre alter the Rocky experience?

(Elliot) We are so fortunate to be able to perform at the Egyptian. Every Rocky production has its own charm, and they’ve been in the tiniest of venues to huge stages. The Egyptian is our home. Getting to perform, but also getting to watch this show in such a beautiful and important piece of DeKalb is something that really adds to the experience. I think seeing a classic production happen in a historical place just goes hand in hand. 

(Brooklynn) How do themes from Rocky continue to stay modern and relevant over 40 years after its release date? 

(Elliot) I think one of the main reasons that Rocky has had as much success as its had is because of the people that made it theirs. I believe it has a very special place in the hearts of fans who consider themselves outcasts, the weird ones, the outsiders. And there will always be outcasts. The themes in Rocky, like being proud to be who you are, fully embracing your identity, and immersing yourself into new (but maybe sometimes strange) experiences are things that were, are, and will continue to be relevant for so many people. I think this movie gives incredible power behind those themes. 

(Brooklynn) Why is it important for people to dress up, bring props, and interact with Rocky as an artistic piece?

(Elliot) Rocky definitely would not be what it is today without the audience that comes in costume, ready to shout, and prepared with a prop kit to become a part of the action. We absolutely love seeing the people that get really into it, and seeing the amount of fun they have, or the shock of someone who hasn’t seen the movie before. Watching someone rock that costume in the crowd, belting out the lyrics or coming up with their own callbacks is one of the best parts of being a part of this phenomenon. Not taking it so seriously is part of what makes it so fun, and it’s how it became such a huge cult classic in the first place, so of course it’s an incredibly important part of the Rocky Horror experience.

(Brooklynn) If there is one thing that the audience should take away from Rocky, what should that be? 

(Elliot) The first time I saw Rocky at the Egyptian, before joining the cast, I left the theatre with a sense of celebration and encouragement. Watching the show and being a part of this cast has really showed me that you should go out there and be unapologetically you. If you leave our shows with anything, I hope you feel ready to take on the world with the confidence of Frank, the curiosity of Brad and Janet, the excitement of Columbia, and ultimately: Don’t dream it, be it!