After watching the Rocky Horror Show performance at Winona State, I sat down with Rachel Maron, who played the main character Janet in the show, to ask her some questions about the show itself, backstage, and more! Her interview not only gave me an insight on her passion for theatre but the story of Rocky Horror itself. And what could be more of a perfect time for Rocky Horror—right before Halloween!
*Might contain some spoilers*
Her Campus (HC): What is your year, your major, and dream for the future?
Rachel Maron (RM): My name is Rachel Maron. I am a sophomore, I’m a theatre major, and a WGSS (Women & Gender Studies) minor. I think my dream is to have a job that incorporates theatre or maybe be a theatre professor, you know? That would be pretty cool. I mean everyone’s dream is to make it big, and I think that’s a little bit unrealistic. I just want to incorporate theatre into my everyday life.
HC: In your own words, give a summary of the Rocky Horror Show.
RM: It starts off—we meet Brad and Janet. They’re this basic, ‘vanilla’ couple that get engaged, and they want to see the man who brought them together: Dr. Scott. They’re driving and their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. They find this castle, and they meet all these characters like Riff-Raff, Magenta, Columbia, and Frank N. Furter. They basically show them a wild lifestyle. You have the phantoms which are the rich weirdos, and their costumes are like some mash to the original movie. They meet other characters like Eddy. They find out that Frank N. Furter made this Frankenstein-esque, buff dude named Rocky. Basically, Brad and Janet cheat on each other with Frank, and Janet cheats on him with Rocky. The two are in bed together thinking it’s each other, but it’s really Frank in both scenarios. The ending is really odd because you find out they’re not from this planet; the planet they are from is called Transsexual and the galaxy is Transylvania. Magenta and Riff-Raff are evil because they say we’re gonna bring back everybody, but really, we’re gonna kill Frank first because we don’t like that he’s telling us what to do. His character is really out there and big; he’s very commanding. So they get jealous. They kill Frank, and then they kill Rocky. They beeped the house back to their planet. Riff-Raff lets Janet and Brad leave with Dr. Scott and then, they’re kind of just left there. They survived, but we don’t know what happens after that. It’s kind of up for interpretation. But it’s so weird, it’s so weird. It’s really hard to explain.
HC: Who did you play? Describe their character?
RM: Okay, so I played Janet in Rocky Horror, and (*sighs*) they’re kind of—Janet is engaged to Brad, and they’re the ‘normal’ people of the show because the show is full of crazy characters. They basically go on this journey because they just became engaged in the beginning. You see them interact with a bunch of different characters on a bunch of different lifestyles, and it’s basically… They’re basically sexually awakened. She goes through a change in herself. She gains a lot of confidence in herself because she lives in this very closed-off world in the beginning. She wants the white-picket fence and the very ‘vanilla’ relationship—but then, she meets Frank N. Furter, who is literally out of this world because he is an alien. She is naive in the beginning, but by the end, she just embraces everything that she is.
HC: Do you relate to your character? Was there anything that you hated?
RM: Oh God. I didn’t hate anything about Janet, but she frustrated me because she’s so naïve. With different lifestyles and everything else, she’s completely judgmental with everyone who is in the castle, so I think that’s the part that really frustrated me. Because I take Women and Gender Studies classes, it’s really interesting to play someone who is different from me personally. I don’t think she’s a 180 degree turn from me, but I think I am a lot more aware of the world than she is because she grew up in such a closed-off space. Relating to her, I’ve discovered a lot more about myself in this show. I had to be really confident in myself both as an actor and physically because she has this moment of embracing herself; I think I had that during the rehearsal process.
HC: Were you ever nervous with the revealing costumes?
RM: Oh, absolutely. When we first started, we had one day where we practiced the phantoms ripping all our clothes off for timing-wise. It was the first time everyone was going to see me in just my bra and underwear, and I was freaking out. But by the end I was thinking to myself, “I am a little too comfortable walking around here with, like, barely any clothes on.” And it’s also really important that I was able to do that because I had a safe space to work in. I commend a lot of my cast members for making that space okay for me to do that.
HC: What made you want to join the show and audition?
RM: I am a theatre major. Theatre is literally my life, and I love musicals and singing. Also, I wanted to be a part of this project too just because it was so different. A lot of people that I talked to and went to see the show, said things like, “Wow I had no idea. I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never watched it or seen it”. It’s a really interesting story, especially for this day and age. The characters, like Brad and Janet, are so appalled. Like I hate that they use the word transvestite, but Frank is essentially a drag queen or a transgender woman, and in this day, it’s a little more accepting than when it came out. It was like 50s and 60s. I was made in the 70s and was a huge uproar, but now, it’s been turned into a cult classic.
HC: Do you know more about its history?
RM: I don’t know so much about it, but obviously, the movie came out first. Tim Curry played Frank N. Furter, and I think it was made in the 70s by Richard O’ Brien who also played Riff Raff in the original movie. I heard that time warp was thrown in the movie because it wasn’t long enough. And Richard O’ Brien is androgynous himself and considers himself ‘a third gender,’ which is really interesting! In showings, they yell stuff at you and throw stuff at you. If you went to see the show, there were prop kits for the audience and they were yelling all this stuff. So that’s kind of the culture of this whole fan-base because there is a huge following in Rocky Horror, even today. People who came to the show that are already big fans didn’t realize the show was a live performance and that there wasn’t a movie behind us because that’s usually how they do the show. Actors mouth the words in the movie, but the movie is also playing in the background. I know that WSU picks shows that are geared not only us as college-age students but also the community, being both students and older individuals. For example, Mugby makes it clear on how welcoming they are to everyone, including LGBTQ. I love that. People also know Rocky Horror from Glee because they did one episode on it.
HC: When did you start in musicals and acting?
RM: Oh God. Well, I did dance when I was really little, probably close to three or four—like itty-bitty. Then it evolved to my aunt who worked at a conservatory for the arts in Minneapolis. And so, I did lessons in dancing, singing, and acting for 5 or 6 years. When it started, I think I was around 7 and I did that until I was about thirteen. I grew up in that environment because my cousin is a dancer on Broadway. She lives in New York City, and she is living my dream. My family pushed me in the best ways. I did all the musicals in middle school and ten shows in high school.
HC: Because I personally went to high school with Rachel Maron, I had to ask her what her favorite musicals were.
RM: Yeah, I would say Seussical because that was my first lead. Either that or All Shook Up. We had a really good sound too; I remember that. It was crazy.
HC: What is your opinion on heels after the show?
RM: God, okay. My mother always tells me—I am not a tall person—but she tells me, “When I was your age, I’d wear heels like all the time.” I despise heels. The heels we had to wear for the floor show were hell on Earth. Horrible. But I am very proud that I can, like, move in them.
HC: How tall?
RM: I don’t know exactly, but they were, like, pretty up there. I think I gained, like what? Three or four inches, maybe? (*Laughs*) I mean, that’s a plus for me! I am very proud that I got used to those though. So maybe in the future I’ll learn to like them, but I hate them as of now. Dancing in heels is also very hard, especially when you’re trying to not to make too much sound. It was walking backstage that was most difficult to not make noise.
HC: Describe the bed scene?
RM: Oh, God. Everyone has asked me about that today. When we first started, it was a closed rehearsal with our director, Heather, Tristan, who plays Brad, and Tyler, who played Frank N. Furter. This had to be a safe space, you know? It’s hard…it was hard to let go of that inner demon that was like, “You know what you’re doing is freaking weird.” Well the rehearsal was more of, how far do you wanna take this, and we decided that we wanted to take it kind of far. We didn’t run it to the ground; we just did it a couple of times. I think she wanted to make sure that our lines were memorized, and that we understood what was being said and what was happening. But it wasn’t like other scenes where we would go over and over. I feel like in that scene, you have to live in that moment because it is all about reaction rather than lines being said. The rehearsal process was crucial, especially for a show like this. It is not appropriate for all.
HC: How many Winona State productions have you been in so far?
RM: This is my second show. I was in the Children’s Traveling show: Elephant and Piggy last year.
HC: For those who don’t know, Tech week is the last week of rehearsals right before the show. Describe your tech week experience.
RM: I do love tech week. I think a lot of people are like, “Oh, I hate tech week.” Obviously it has some not-so-fun factors in it, but this one was interesting. I think in tech week you add all these elements, and suddenly you go from, “Oh, I am in rehearsal” to “I am in this ‘world’” because you have set, sounds, lights, and components coming together. I call it ‘magic week’ because it’s stupid, but it’s magic! It was interesting because during one of our last rehearsals, a bunch of things were going wrong. But in our very last rehearsal, all of a sudden we snapped into gear and people got their shit together. We put everything together. We had to get used to the people in the audience and also the yelling of profane words to us. It was stressful but worth it. I have no idea where the idea of the audience yelling and throwing things came from, and I should’ve known before being in the show.
HC: What’s your astrology sign?
RM: Cancer! I’m a cancer! July baby!
HC: What’s your favorite color?
RM: Like a really deep-midnight blue. I love it.
HC: Why should people see productions of Rocky Horror?
RM: I think (1): because it’s really fun and (2): if you’re wanting to become more open or tap into yourself a little bit, this might be a fun way to do that. The music is really fun and if you watched the movie, it’s a classic you should enjoy!
Additional Note from Rachel:
Come see WSU Theatre! Come see other shows of ours! Emily is coming up in November. It’s about this woman who is a scientist and doesn’t get credit for her experiments. It’s really good! So yeah, please come support WSU Thad.
After going through this interview with Rachel, I’ve learned way more about Rocky Horror than I thought I would. Her answers were spot-on, and I am inspired to find the original movie and watch the story again. Rachel Maron did a fantastic job playing Janet, and hopefully this interview inspires more students and readers to go see Rocky Horror also!
Photography Credits go to Nicole Girgen.