For the 10th year in a row, Love and Light Productions is bringing “The Rocky Horror Show” to State College, and the cast and crew are pulling out all the stops in honor of the milestone anniversary.
“It’s the biggest we’ve ever gone. We’ve spared no expense when it comes to all the technical aspects. We have a lot more special effects than we’ve ever had before,” said Alicia Starr, producer and artistic director at Love and Light. “We want it to be a monumental, immersive experience.”
She and her husband, Gregory Mudzinski, founded the vigilante theater company in 2008, when they performed “Rocky Horror” for the very first time at The Brewery. With expansive theater backgrounds, Starr and Mudzinski put their heads together and the result has been a lineup of impressive shows over the years. That has included a touring stint, taking “Rocky Horror” on the road to New York, Philadelphia and more.
This is the third year the group has performed at The State Theatre, and it has come a long way. While the group started with just enough costumes and props to fit into a small trailer, the setup now takes countless hours of work and numerous helping hands. Almost 30 cast and crew have been working over three months to reveal the biggest, most elaborate version of the show yet.
“It’s never the same show since we’ve begun,” Starr said. “We’ve been getting bigger, our tricks are getting crazier, our lifts are more extreme, the costumes have gotten ... more sequined.”
This year boasts a 1920s theme, but loyal followers of the cult favorite have no need to worry. Starr says the show itself hasn’t changed much — the theme is mostly found in costuming and some of the choreography.
One big change for Starr herself is her reprisal of the role of Magenta, which she hasn’t done since Love and Light’s very first year. She’s handed the directorial reigns over to Rachel Moon, who’s been with the company for about three years.
“I’m really proud of this production,” Moon said. “We all had a say — from the band, to the actors, to the musicians. It’s very much a labor of love. ... We’ve just tried to build a bigger, better “Rocky Horror” for audiences.”
The show has become a Halloween tradition of sorts for locals, with about 1,300 people in the audience last year.
“Every year more people come, and then the next year they bring their friends,” Starr said.
While the appeal of the production benefits from the Halloween season and the show’s cult following, there’s much more that makes it relevant for today’s audiences.
“While the show is a spoof on science fiction and horror movies, there is an underlying theme,” Mudzinski said. “As ridiculous and crazy as the show can be, there is a message in there — and that’s to be comfortable with yourself. I think ... with this day and age and the times we’re seeing right now, it’s especially important for people to feel comfortable with themselves and their own sexuality and be able to express that and be accepted ... that’s something that’s very important to us.”
After 10 years with the show, Starr and Mudzinski are far from bored with it. In fact, they seem more in love with the production than ever. Both point to the many relationships they’ve formed thanks to Love and Light, and Starr even says it changed her life.
“Everybody that I’m close to, all my friends, are through Love and Light. Theater has always been my passion and being able to create something ... and people enjoy (it), that’s the most rewarding thing ever. Without ‘Rocky,’ I wouldn’t be who I am,” she said.
Summing up the show in an invitation to the audience, she said, “It’s a giant explosion of sequins, fishnets and punk rock ’n’ roll. It’s a super-awesome fun time. ... Halloween is all about dressing up and being someone else for the night and that’s what ‘Rocky’ is about ... get dressed up in your favorite Halloween ensemble and come out and sing and dance with us.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Love and Light presents “The Rocky Horror Show”
- When: 8 p.m. Thursday, 7 and 11 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday
- Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
- Info: www.thestatetheatre .org