Rocky Horror cast in search of new home

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Junior Sarah Knowlton and IU Grad student Alicia Bueche cast as Columbia and Magenta. PHOTO/Leah Fick
Junior Sarah Knowlton and IU Grad student Alicia Bueche cast as Columbia and Magenta. PHOTO/Leah Fick

Staff Writer

Local cast members performing in a cult classic are temporarily homeless. At least, when it comes to it having a space to perform.

The South Bend Hot Patooties, a shadow cast dedicated to performing scenes from the cult phenomenon movie “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” are scrambling to find a new venue to host them. This comes after their previous home, the State Theater in South Bend, recently closed.

Because of the closure, the show will go on a temporary hiatus until a new location is found, which directors are hopeful, will be in time for the 2017 season.

Abby Sue Halling, one of the directors of the show, said that it is especially painful that the group’s October show has been cancelled, because it is the biggest show of the year.

Halling called the cancellation a “huge drag down.” “When you think of Rocky Horror, you think of Halloween,” Halling said. “It’s definitely a blow to [the cast’s] morale. It’s something that we gear up for for months.”

Kayley Hagberg, who is a co-director with Halling, agrees.

“Our cast and crew are pretty bummed,” Hagberg said. “That’s when we have our biggest audience. Rocky Horror and Halloween go hand in hand.”

Halling said that last year, the group had more than 1,000 people in the audience for an October show in the Goshen Theater, so it is understandable how much this hurts the group.

“Not only was it a financial hit, but it was a morale hit,” Hagberg said. “It was kind of a blow to us, but we’ll work through it.”

Halling said that one of the benefits for cast members is that the group gives them a chance to be in a safe space, and to just “be themselves.” “Not having that outlet has been hard for some of the cast,” she said.

While losing a place to perform in the short term is painful, losing the atmosphere of the State Theater is also disappointing. Halling said that the theater is run down, and that creates the perfect atmosphere for the show. “It’s got that creepy-ish vibe, so that’s perfect for Rocky Horror,” Halling said.

The group has performed at several different venues, including the Goshen Theater, the Birdsell Mansion, the Potawatomi Conservatory and some bars. However, none of them offer the same benefits as the State Theater. “Rocky Horror is best on an actual stage and in a theater,” Hagberg said. “A theater has a certain ambiance.”

Halling agrees. “The inside of the State Theater is just a really good atmosphere for artists,” she said.

Performing at other venues also creates budget and logistical issues. Hagberg said that if the venue doesn’t already have certain amenities, such as security, a projector, or a sound system, then they have to rent them, which puts a strain on their small budget. There is also the issue of moving props in and out, as it is difficult in some venues.

Halling said that performing at a bar would “alienate” part of the audience, as many are under 21. Hagberg agrees, and said that bars “aren’t conducive” to Rocky Horror, as there is not enough space and some of the cast are underage.

With its set of demands, and the controversial nature of the movie, which features several sex scenes, the group has been having a hard time finding a new home. However, Halling and Hagberg are hopeful that something is in the works with LangLab in South Bend. “We kind of have to crunch the numbers to see if LangLab is feasible,” Hagberg said. “It all depends on if we can afford it. If we can make it work we would like to build a relationship with them, but nothing is set in stone.”

Halling is optimistic that the group will be performing again at the start of their 2017 season, but also said the group is open to any recommendations about potential performance venues. “We expect to be back for our annual Lips and Lingerie show for Valentine’s Day,” Halling said.

However, for fans who were waiting for the big October show, it offers little consolation. “People are disappointed,” Halling said. “They count on us to put on a show. It’s a tradition for some people to go to it.”

Halling and Hagberg are confident the group will persevere. “We may be taking a small hiatus until 2017, but we’ve been dealt this hand before,” Hagberg said. “We’ve worked through it. Wherever we can find a place, even if it’s in somebody’s backyard.”

Halling agrees. “Overall, we’ll get through it,” she said. “We expect to be back abundantly in the next year.”

We all have the passion for it,” Hagberg said. “We want to see it thrive, because we’re all weirdos and we need a weird place to be. We’ll be back.”

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