October 15, 2019

Backstage at the Egyptian: Josh Chesser 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 Josh Chesser (22) and conducted by Brooklynn Gosnell, Marketing & Communications Intern

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

We have been performing Rocky Horror at the Egyptian Theatre since 2011 however our name was changed to Irrational Masters in May of 2015.

 

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

Rocky Horror accomplishes something not many films can, Rocky brings together people from many different worlds. Most notably Rocky attracts people from the LGBTQ+ community with the strong message of “don’t dream it, be it” but a variety of fans and cast members come from other paths such as Classic Horror Fans, Music/Theatre Students, seasonal Halloween fans, teenagers trying to find a place to fit in, and even people who remember hearing about the movie decades ago but never looked into it until now.

 

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

Seeing Rocky Horror with a live shadow cast is the only way to get THE Rocky Horror Experience. A cast of devoted Rocky Horror Fans dressed in screen accurate costumes, fun preshow games and prizes, prop kits to help you through the show, and a theatre full of diverse individuals (some also in costume) shouting hilarious callbacks throughout the show…what makes Rocky Horror a unique experience is the community.

 

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

We are extremely grateful to be able to perform in the Egyptian Theatre, we are a small volunteer group of students and community members but once a month we get to stand on a stage that has hosted A-List comedians, world famous rockstars, traveling tribute bands, and even Presidential leaders. The Egyptian Theatre is full of life and holds many stories. It is truly a staple of our community. Performing and attending a show at The Egyptian cements you in History. 

 

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

Rocky Horror is very much relevant today and will always be relevant. Rocky is a safe place for people to finally fit in somewhere, whether based on sexuality, gender, identity, common interests, or simply being “weird” in the eyes of the populous.

 

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

Rocky Horror is alive today because of its community. Dressing up, throwing props, and yelling callbacks make the show fun for the audience and the performers. Fans have been coming to shows in fishnets for 40 years, personally it feels amazing to be continuing that tradition.

 

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

Don’t dream it, be it. That message can be applied to all aspects of life. You are capable of being anything you want in life. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from reaching your dreams.