This Friday will mark the third straight year the RKO Army will be performing “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the University of Rhode Island on Halloween.
Overall, this will be the ninth time the Rhode Island-based organization has performed it here since 1982.
The RKO Army was first formed in 1981 as the Rhode Island Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast by Bob Andoscia and Roy Rossi. The group is based in Rhode Island, but have also performed at venues in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
“Bob and I had a vision that this thing called Rocky Horror could be something far greater than what we were looking at locally and we started our own cast working with like-minded people who felt the same way,” Rossi said.
“Now it has become an elite national cast that I am extremely proud of and a great family to hundreds of people over decades.”
Rossi was the group’s director from 1981 to 1993, and then again from 2006 to present.
“Rocky Horror Picture Show”, which focuses on a recently engaged couple who end up at the house of mad scientist, Dr. Frank N. Furter, is often regarded as one of the most famous cult films of all-time. Although the film did not do well commercially when it was released in 1975, it has gained a large cult following since. Due to its continued popularity, the film has never left initial release since it opened.
It first gained notoriety at a screening in New York City when the audience began to interact with the film and talk to the dialogue. Other traditions soon developed, including throwing objects at the screen, dressing up as characters, dancing to the film’s songs and midnight screenings.
According to Rossi, there are some traditions that the RKO Army doesn’t follow, namely the time when they hold screenings for the film.
“We no longer wait until midnight,” he said. Â “We found it was depleting audience sizes. Other than that, we let traditions remain organic, which is to say that new traditions and new patterns of behavior may emerge over time.”
Many screenings of Rocky Horror feature shadow-casts who act out the movie right in front of the screen, which the RKO Army does. Rossi noted that the three things that they look for when casting for shows are reliability, functionality and effort.
“Reliability is crucial. We look for people who we think the audience likes to look at,” he said “What the audience likes to look at might be looks, it might be accuracy, or it might be entertainment. The bottom line that separates us is that people do not get roles just because they want them.”
In 2013, the Army held the National Rocky Horror 38th Anniversary Convention in Providence, which was heralded as having set a new standard for such events.
According to Rossi, this was because they did things differently. The group organized bigger and more practical afterparties, performed alternate production and held a get together on the night of the convention.
In addition to “Rocky Horror,” the RKO Army also does shadowcast productions of episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly,” and movies such as “Serenity.”
“Now that we have accumulated talent, intelligence, creativity, and drive that I could not have dreamed of in our cast for the first 20 years,” Rossi said, “we eventually felt that we could simply do even more.”
The screening and performance by the RKO Army will be held on Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. at Edwards Auditorium.