Barry Bostwick.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the bizarre 1975 musical-comedy-horror movie based on The Rocky Horror Show musical, today is not only considered a classic; it spawned a whole new form of acting/performance, called the “shadow cast.”

A shadow cast is a group of actors who perform, in costume, an entire movie live—while that movie plays in the background. Some of these Rocky Horror shadow casts are now getting help from one of the movie’s stars: Barry Bostwick, aka Brad Majors, is now starring in “The 47th Anniversary Spectacular Show” tour, coming to The Show at the Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage on Friday, Oct. 7. The event will feature a costume contest, some words by Bostwick, and, of course, a shadow cast performing as The Rocky Horror Picture Show plays.

“This is a huge party,” Bostwick said during a recent phone interview. “In fact, my character, Brad, says in the beginning of the movie, ‘It’s just a party, Janet,’ when we walk into the castle. That’s been my attitude about this little tour thing we do—just creating an atmosphere for a huge party.

“I think people are finally confident enough to go out into public and have a party, and I think it’s time for a party. Over the last couple of years, a lot of these shadow casts who do the show in front of the screen have had to go on hiatus, and they’ve lost their theaters, and they’ve lost members; consequently, the whole sort of Rocky Horror community was put on hold. I thought, ‘Well, this year, let me go out for maybe 13 or 14 days and try to create some energy around the show again, and to help the shadow casts get back on their feet.’”

Bostwick is co-hosting the event with Rocky Horror superfan Larry Vizel.

“(Vizel) goes out onstage, and he’ll do a costume contest, and we’ll do a virgins ceremony with people who’ve never seen Rocky Horror before, and basically explain the rules … and then I’ll come out and talk to the audience and maybe take a few questions, and then we get right into the show,” Bostwick said. “The ‘47th anniversary’ is sort of a joke, because, I mean, who celebrates 47 years? The 45th year, everybody was locked down, pretty much. It’s just a time for the audience to reacquaint themselves with the fun and the rock ’n’ roll of Rocky Horror. I’m going to have as much fun as hopefully the audience will.”

While Bostwick is hosting some pre-show VIP events and the Q&A, he’s not part of the shadow cast.

“(The shadow casts) mimic everything perfectly that’s on the screen, and I can’t do that,” he said. “One cast a few years ago asked me to go up and play Ralph Hapschatt, the guy who gets married in the beginning. I went up and I tried to do it, but when your back’s turned to the screen, you have no idea what you’re doing unless you’ve studied and studied and studied, like these people have. I just made a fool of myself.”

While the film is approaching 50 years old, The Rocky Horror Picture Show continues to stay relevant, something Bostwick attributes to the film’s themes of acceptance and empowerment.

“What astonishes me is how the movie still impacts not only the audience, who are there just to have a big happening, but it impacts some of the hardcore fans and people who are perhaps a little bit on the outside of society. They’re finding their own tribe, and it’s time for the tribe to have their own power,” Bostwick said. “I think a lot of the themes of the movie are still very, very current, and in fact, some of them are even more important now than they were when we made it in the ’70s. Hopefully, we’re still inspiring and changing people’s lives, besides just entertaining them.”

Bostwick said the creativity and dedication of the many shadow casts across the nation have also helped keep Rocky Horror relevant.

“I think a lot of the themes of the movie are still very, very current, and in fact, some of them are even more important now than they were when we made it in the ’70s. Hopefully, we’re still inspiring and changing people’s lives, besides just entertaining them.” Barry Bostwick

“It’s the shadow casts and the fans who have created this alternate entertainment that would never still be around if it was just the movie,” Bostwick said. “The movie is great and catchy and fun and singable and bright, and the performances are brilliant, but it’s the atmosphere in the theater that’s been created by the fans who see it again and again and again, or bring a friend or bring a son or daughter, as a sort of passage moment in their lives.

“We’re on our third generation now of Rocky Horror people, and I have 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds come up to me and go, ‘Wow, this is my favorite movie of all time.’ In my mind, I’m going, ‘How many movies have you seen?’ Then I think of how progressive his or her parents must have been to bring them to this show that creates an awful lot of questions in a young mind.”

While Rocky Horror is now viewed as a classic, it was not well-received when it came out in theaters.

“When it did come out theatrically, it didn’t last very long,” Bostwick said. “It was only a few years later, when we got on the midnight circuit, that I became aware of the shadow casts. I was invited to the Tiffany Theater in Los Angeles on Sunset, and they had a cast that started in the ’70s. They invited me down; I think (the soundtrack to) Rocky Horror had just gone gold, so they presented me with a gold album—and I presented them with a pair of my underwear, framed. It was a fine exchange.”

The Rocky Horror Picture Show 47th Anniversary Spectacular Show takes place at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 7, at The Show at Agua Caliente, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Guests are welcome to dress up as their favorite character. Tickets are $25 to $75. For tickets or more information, call 800-514-3849, or visit aguacalientecasinos.com.

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Matt King

Matt King is a freelance writer for the Coachella Valley Independent. A creative at heart, his love for music thrust him into the world of journalism at 17 years old, and he hasn't looked back. Before...