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'Rocky Horror' lives

  • Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." 20th Century Fox

Even in an era when some people chat on their cellphones in movie theaters during the show, it's not considered good form to shout rude remarks at the characters on the screen — with one exception.

At a midnight showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," zingers from the crowd are all part of the show.

Fans often dress as characters in the film, including the iconic, cross-dressing, mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter, clad in a black lace-up vest, black briefs with garters attached, fishnet stockings and high heels.

Sonoma County audiences will get opportunities this fall to revisit the self-described "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania" in both his stage and screen incarnations.

Santa Rosa's 6th Street Playhouse marks the 40th anniversary of the original London stage debut of the musical play, "The Rocky Horror Show," with its own new production opening Sept. 20.

And the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma will screen the 1975 film version, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," starring Tim Curry as Frank, on Oct. 18.

"The film has the longest theatrical release in history," said Craig Miller, artistic director at 6th Street Playhouse. It has continued to play at cinemas worldwide for the past 38 years.

In keeping with the cult film's long-established tradition, there will be a live, costumed "shadow cast," performing the entire show right along with the actors on the screen.

"The evolution of the tradition started primarily in New York back in the '70s," said Nate Havoc of the all-volunteer troupe Barely Legal, which performs onstage at "Rocky Horror" screenings all over Northern California.

"There was a group of people that would go to the movie every Saturday night," he said. "Slowly but surely, people began to dress up like their favorite characters. Then they started to get in front of the screen and act out scenes."

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