Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

Rocky Horror: A Look at JMU’s Shadow Cast of the Cult-Classic Halloween Musical

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at JMU chapter.

If you’re looking for more Halloween events to add to your calendar as spooky season comes to a close, consider seeing JMU’s shadow cast production of the 1975 horror musical film, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. Here is everything you need to know about this can’t-miss performance.

When you walk into Memorial Hall, you will be met by the ensemble outside the auditorium waiting to greet you in character. If this is your first time at a shadow cast performance, the cast members will draw a V in lipstick on your forehead to signify that you’re a “Rocky Horror Virgin” (don’t worry, you can ask for it on your arm if you’d like)! Unlike a traditional musical, the shadow cast performance will have actors act and lip-sync on stage while the film plays behind them. Cast members have been known to dance through the aisles and interact with the audience, so come ready to participate!

Another unique aspect about the show is their callouts. Callouts are when the emcee interjects the film with ad-libs and one liners. If you’re a long time fan of the film, you probably have some of these callouts memorized by now, however JMU’s Rocky Horror has created some callouts that are exclusive to their performance. In fact, you might even hear the JMU fight song get called out!

The film really opened the floodgates as to what was possible for [the Queer Community].


While you are free to show up to the show in whatever you feel comfortable in, dressing up is encouraged! Audience members have been known to come in carbon copies of character costumes from the movie, but if you want a more abstract look corsets, layered lingerie, fishnets, and drag makeup will help you blend right in! Of course, you don’t have to dress up; however, if you choose not to there are still three guidelines you may want to follow.

  • Suits are discouraged, this will not be the formal musical experience you’re used to seeing, so keep it casual!
  • Not too casual however, as sandals and flip-flops are also discouraged (simply for being too fugly).
  • The biggest no-no at a Rocky Horror production is a striped shirt. Following a superstitious story regarding crew members whose striped shirts accidentally got caught on film during the original production of the movie, striped shirts have been banned from a majority of Rocky Horror productions since.

Despite not receiving mainstream recognition at the time of its big screen debut, the original 1975 film has gained a cult following within the Queer Community and currently holds the title of longest running film in history. The plot of the film follows a newly engaged young couple, Brad and Janet, whose car breaks down and are forced to seek refuge in a strange castle nearby. It is there that they encounter Frank Furter, a transvestite alien mad scientist, and his posy of extra-terrestrial friends including Riff-Raff, Magenta, and Columbia. During their absurd stay at the castle, Brad and Janet begin to reject their heteronormative values and experiment with their sexuality and labels. The film broke boundaries for both the film industry and the LGBTQ+ rights movement. The Rocky Horror Picture Show was one of the first big-screen films of its time to focus on themes of queerness and sexuality openly and directly. The film had a huge influence on the Queer Community of the 70’s and continues to have an impact on queer people today. I spoke with the cast and asked what the film meant to them.

Achilles, an ensemble cast member, said that “seeing the film for the first time was revolutionary, I didn’t expect a film so old to be so gay. It was a reminder that queer people have always existed”.

Ryan, who plays the criminologist, said “the 70’s was obviously not the best time for the gay community, but the film really opened the floodgates as to what was possible for us”.

Zoe L, who plays Dr. Scott said, “having straight male actors quite literally lusting after each other in 1975 was unheard of, it was a really brilliant form of allyship”.

Atticus, an ensemble cast member, said “watching the movie was the first time I had ever been exposed to unapologetic queer culture, it’s kind of a big piece of queer history. Rocky is one of those things you can watch a million times over and notice something new every time”.

Drew, a crewmember, talked to me about their first time seeing a Rocky Horror shadow cast; “I saw something in it, seeing queer people being their authentic selves was really cool and something I wanted to be a part of”.

The show will be performed live October 26th and the 28th, as well as November 2nd and November 4th at 8pm in Memorial Hall Auditorium and admission will be free!

Serena is a communications student at James Madison University aiming to graduate in the spring of 2025. Before coming to JMU, Serena graduated from Northern Virginia Community College and has a passion for community college student and community college transfer student advocacy. HerCampus has given Serena a much needed opportunity to scoop up all the thoughts she has in her head and put them down on paper.