The RKO Players
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A long, long time ago... in a galaxy far, far away... the Meadowbrook Cinema's casts have heard those words more than 500 times in the opening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Since September 25, 1987, the Meadowbrook has played host to four different casts. The first was the cast now known as Absolute Pleasure lead by Roy Rossi. This was the eighth home for Roy Rossi's troupe since 1978. Following this group was Creatures of the Night, The Back Row Cast, and now The RKO Players. This near ten year production have become the longest running show in Rhode Island history. As we look back after our 500th week, we have decided to share some memories from our history.
And there are so many memories... such as the Bristol fourth of July parade, the oldest fourth of July parade in the country. The Creatures of the Night case had a float in this parade. The building of the float went without a hitch. However, when the parade committee saw the float and the costumes being worn, they didn't want to let the Rocky Horror float into the parade because of its "satanic" look. Apparently the whole transvestite thing wasn't a problem. Since the parade was the next day there wasn't time for any changes. The problem was solved by putting a bunch of U.S. flags on the float. Patriotism had saved the day.
Ah memories... how about the day Absolute Pleasure played at the Strand Theater in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. The Strand is a big, old theater that once was an old movie house. The Absolute Pleasure Cast filled that theater with hundreds of fans and put on an incredible show (with some fab-u-lous props and lighting). It was as close as you could get to seeing it live without going to see the play. Despite the fact that they have been around close to 20 years, they are still performing in Rhode Island.
We also remember the show The Back Row put on one snowy evening. Rhode Island had been buried in 10 inches of snow that night and the roads were horrible. Quarter past midnight had rolled around and there were 15 people who had braved the weather and only two cast members (there were usually 16). So how do you put on a show without a cast?
Pull virgins out of the audience, throw them in costume and give them a quick once over as what they're supposed to do. Everyone in the audience was given something to do for the ULTIMATE in audience participation. After the movie started, two more cast members showed up and threw on their costumes. This show ended up not being a disaster as one might expect, but rather became a rip roaring good time.
Now we come to recent history. April 18th and 19th came around in 1997 which marked 500 weeks of performing at The Meadowbrook Theater. This show had everything. There were tons of prizes given out by the theater owner. A great slide show and pre-show thanks to Roy Rossi and Absolute Pleasure. Front page newspaper coverage the week of the show. A huge audience (we had to turn people away both nights). The only thing that was missing was a virgin call (so many virgins so little time). It will be hard to forget looking out over the crowd and seeing a person in every seat.
For all the big stories there are thousands of smaller ones. Like the time the spotlight caught fire. Or very recently our Technical Director, Dan (playing Brad Majors that night), proposed to our Columbia, Amber (playing Janet Weiss that night) before the show. And the time an entire busload of kids on school trip pulled up at midnight to see the show.
As we approach 10 years at the Meadowbrook this September, "it's astounding" to see what the show has become. Many high school kids have received their first taste of acting in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Thousands of people have seen the show. The show has become a place where aspiring Transylvanians go to meet like minded people and have a good time. They usually end up making new friends in the process. We all hope to see you there someday so we can, "do the Time Warp again!!!!!!"
The RKO Players dedicate this article to every person who has ever been in a Rocky Horror cast anywhere. Kudos to you all.
(RKO History written by Fred Moreau with thanks to Roy Rossi and Seth Holmes)