Camille Echeverri as “Magenta” in the Ones From The Vaults shadow cast production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Henry Koski/Courtesy photo
Camille Echeverri as “Magenta” in the Ones From The Vaults shadow cast production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

'Rocky Horror' lands at Latchis

Brattleboro will have its own monthly screening of the cult classic, with top-tier shadow cast

Raise your hand if you're ready to do the time warp again!

Thanks to a collaboration between Kinetic Theory Theatre (KTT) and the Latchis Theater, you can soon bellow this iconic tune from Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) - en masse and in Brattleboro. Complete with shadow cast and all its quirky culture, RHPS will soon be a monthly feature on the area arts scene.

RHPS mania first swept the country nearly 50 years ago, and it endures today. A 1975 independent musical comedy horror film based on the 1973 stage musical production The Rocky Horror Show, RHPS is, according to Wikipedia, "a tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the 1930s through the early 1960s."

As encapsulated in The Rough Guide to Film, "A young couple, Brad and Janet, enter the alternative universe of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite from the planet of Transexual in the galaxy of Transylvania, who has created the perfect man, Rocky Horror, with the help of his twisted assistants."

Though the film never got traction in standard 2, 7, or 9 p.m.–type showings, it took off as an after-hours cult darling - soon to become a classic.

Film critic Roger Ebert, describing Rocky Horror as "not so much a movie as more of a long-running social phenomenon," wrote that "inside the theater, the fans put on a better show than anything on the screen."

"They knew the film by heart, chanted all of the lines in unison, sang along with the songs, did dances on stage, added their own unprintable additions to the screenplay, and went through a lot of props like toilet paper and water pistols," he said.

Ebert described it as "a strange exhibitor-audience relationship, because the regulars were essentially buying tickets so they could attend their own show."

The longest-running theatrical release in film history, RHPS has seen countless shadow-casts acting - shadowing - in front of the projection and heartily welcoming audience participation.

The Latchis Theater screens RHPS annually at Halloween, but Stephanie Abrams, founding director of KTT, said it was a wonder that Brattleboro didn't have its own monthly RHPS roundup.

Abrams, a mime for 30 years and a circus performer for 27, moved to Brattleboro last June with her partner, Patrick Branstetter, who's originally from Bethel. An alumnus of the ever-popular, rocking, and stomping performance art group Blue Man Group, Branstetter wanted to return to his native state. He now owns Old Timey Piano Craft on Cotton Mill Hill, where he rebuilds pianos.

Abrams' KTT is a theater and school she founded in Los Angeles, specializing in the teaching and producing of mime and physical theater. That operation folded in the pandemic but lives on in Brattleboro, where Abrams works with private clients both virtually and in person, and runs workshops at circus schools around the country.

"I teach pre-professional and professional artists how to incorporate storytelling into their circus work," she said. Circus Smirkus engaged Abrams to direct its 2023 summer tour, which facilitated her introduction to Vermont. She'd taught at New England Center for Circus Arts for a short stint, but decided not to return last fall, and instead to pursue her work coaching mime and contortion.

Moving to the area has been, Abrams admits, "a major culture shock. I've lived in cities my whole life; this is the most rural I've ever lived."

She regularly enjoys a city hit, though. "I love the train proximity: I can just get on the train here and arrive at [New York City's] Penn Station" when she visits her daughter, a college freshman, and cultivates connections for engagements, she says.

When she moved to Brattleboro, Abrams recalls, "I swore that I wasn't going to produce shows. I'd produced a lot of shows - tons of shows - in Los Angeles. But I got here and felt like there wasn't work here I was excited about doing: I try to push boundaries. [...] I felt like [RHPS] needed to happen.

"I knew about the Latchis. I heard they do Rocky Horror but only once a year and with no live performance. I'd never heard of running the film with no live cast." She got in touch with Latchis Executive Director Jon Potter, and he immediately bought in, Abrams reports, stressing his commitment to supporting local artists and engaging a high-quality troupe.

Soon Abrams assembled what was dubbed The Ones From the Vaults, a 13-member shadow cast troupe comprised of area performers - some up-and-coming and others professional: Darcy Biddle, Francesca Bonfiglio, Aubrey Clinedinst, Camille Echeverri, Anneken Jogl, Henry Koski, Rin Lepard, Elliot McGary-Walters, Nathan Olson, Katie Russo, Esther Van de Lagemaat, and the award-winning Abrams herself.

As it happens, most are circus performers and "that makes a unique group, for sure," Abrams says, but the cast will change over time as some circus folks move on and other performers step up to partake.

"I joined a Rocky Horror shadow cast myself when I was only 14 years old," Abrams explains, "and it truly shaped who I became as a performer."

"I had seen the movie and was a fan," she continues. "I was drawn to the aesthetic because I'm a goth kid at heart and love all things sort of dark and weird, so already it pulled me in, but it also just showed me as a young performer that you can do things on stage and on film that are not what everybody else is doing. The RHPS cast I joined became a family - it gave kids in my community a place to be ourselves."

She adds that, in theater, people are taught "to say 'yes,' and so it is." In the RHPS shadow world, if a cast member wants to insert a new movement, a good joke, a twist, it's a "yes."

"Shadow casting started off as a fan response," says Abrams, "and now there's a huge fandom," the culture of which embraces LGBTQ+ communities, among many others.

"[It's] a welcoming space for everyone. We want people from all walks of life to come and see and experience it," she says.

"I know that there are folks here who saw the movie originally in the '70s - there are three generations of Rocky Horror fans out there and we want all those people to come on," as a KTT media release describes it, "this strange journey as [The Ones From the Vaults] bring the characters to life and perform this outrageous musical live in front of the screen."

"It's sort of underground ... libertine," Abrams offers. "Audience are encouraged to come dressed up in costume and we'll have prop kits for sale, so you'll get your [own collection of] things to throw and we'll prompt you when to do that."

Even the media release beckons: "Become a part of the experience. Don't dream it, be it!"

In KTT's press materials, cast members reflect on the experience.

Jogl comments: "The thing I love the most about Rocky Horror is the escape from judgement and grids of expected behavior. Right and wrong, good and bad, pride and shame are flipped on their head. In real life, I always feel like I'm either too much or too little, and it's so nice and freeing to get to let that go for a little bit!"

The joint venture between Kinetic Theory Theatre and the Latchis Theatre runs the first Saturday of every month, starting April 6, at the Latchis upstairs ballroom theatre.

"The film starts at 11 p.m.," Abrams adds, "but we want to encourage people to get there early - at 10 - because the pre-show is part of the whole experience. It's not just about going to see a movie."

Audiences are encouraged to get a pub drink if they wish, tune up their "Time Warp," check out the finery, purchase a prop kit, and grab a seat to hold onto for the imminent dynamic dive into otherworldly action.

Though Dr. Frank-N-Furter says, "It's not easy having a good time! Even smiling makes my face ache," organizers would bet Brattleboro can prove him wrong.

Tickets are $20, available at the door and in advance at

This Arts item by Annie Landenberger was written for The Commons.

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