Rocky returns, just in time for Halloween

Pajama Factory to host community production of ‘Rocky Horror Show’ for second year



“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” became an unlikely cult classic after its original lackluster release in 1975 — but there would have been no cult classic status for the film without the 1973 stage production that inspired it, “The Rocky Horror Show.”

Fortunately for fans of Dr. Frank N. Furter, Magenta, Riff Raff and the rest of the unique cast, the musical has become a Halloween-time-of-year tradition, and those living in central Pennsylvania get to join in on the fun. A community production of “The Rocky Horror Show” will return for the second year to the Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave., with performances at 7 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday, with additional 11 p.m. performances on Friday and Saturday.

Local actor Beau Schemery is back to both direct and star as Frank N. Furter in the production, a role that had its beginnings for him nearly a decade ago.

“I tried out for this show about eight years ago in Muncy at the Ritz Theater where it was being produced by Taylor-Made Productions and directed by Bob Taylor,” he said. “He wanted me for Frank but couldn’t put together a cast he was completely happy with. He decided to postpone production for nearly two years before he contacted me again to be in it.”

The Taylor-Made Productions show came together two years later at the Pennsdale Volunteer Fire Company, which Schemery called “an amazing experience,” but finding a venue the following year to continue the tradition was proving elusive — until Schemery suggested that they look into the Pajama Factory. That year’s show was a “huge success,” he said, and when Taylor moved on the next year to run his own theater in Selinsgrove, Schemery wanted to keep the show going in Williamsport.

“I decided the show was enough fun and I had enough friends interested in being a part of it that I decided to try my hand at producing and directing,” he said. “Williamsport and the surrounding areas have a sizable ‘Rocky Horror community,’ who are more than willing to come out and support us.”

Now in its second year with Schemery at the helm, the show continues to be a source of fun — and pride — for the director, especially because it’s a community-oriented production.

“Everybody pitches in, but unlike other productions in the area, I make it a point to share any profits with everyone in the cast and crew since there is so much work that goes into it, from costumes to set to promo, to props, performance and even just morale,” he said. “And because of how many years we’ve been at this show specifically, it feels more like a family rather than a bunch of diverse volunteers.”

However, it’s not just the cast that makes a great performance, Schemery said — the audience is, of course, a crucial part, and he’s always been pleased with those at the Pajama Factory shows.

“The participation element really brings the audience into the ‘inner circle’ of the cast like few other productions,” he said. “I have met many lifelong friends by connecting with people who love this production as much or even more than me. It’s not just the little family of the cast and crew, it’s the large, extended family of people who identify with this work.”

Schemery also appreciates the ability to switch up the production each year, he said, thanks to annual nature of the show.

“There are always little things that crop up in the course of productions where the participants have ideas and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we did this?’ Most productions you only really get one shot but because of the annual nature of what we’ve been doing, our show changes a bit each year,” he said. “Last year we went with a steampunk theme and changed some of the costumes, set and props accordingly. There’s going to be a really innovative bit with Rocky’s performance this year because the actor playing him has a DJ and rap background. We’ve also added a lightsaber battle.”

For all its quirky characters, Schemery believes “Rocky Horror” is a uniquely uplifting show, one that he’s thirlled to perform each year.

“The show also has a really positive message about being yourself, no matter how strange that self might be, and I think that is why it has endured so well,” he said. “This show is, above all else, fun — fun for the audience, but fun for the cast as well. We love to do it and we love to make people happy through it. We really hope people will come out and be happy and be themselves with us.”

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