History: Primordial Period (1978-1981)
SHOWCASE CINEMAS, Seekonk, MA – Oct, 1978 – Jan 1979 (Weekly Fri & Sat nights)
JANE PICKENS THEATER, Newport, RI – Spring 1978 – Summer 1978, Spring 1979 – Summer 1979 (Weekly Fri & Sat nights)
CINERAMA, Providence, RI – Feb, 1979 – Mar 1983 (Weekly Fri & Sat nights)
Before there were casts, there was just the showing of the movie.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show began showing in the greater Providence area at the Showcase Cinemas in Seekonk, MA in the Fall of 1978. There was an approximate 13 week run on Friday and Saturday nights at midnight. The only account we do have is co-founder Bob Andoscia going to the opening night. Some people came dressed in costume, but no local cast had developed yet. This likely emanated from word that there were the beginnings of other casts “out there” in NYC and Boston.If anyone from that short time period spots this and reads this, please reach out to me.
Meanwhile, beginning in the Spring of 1978 there was also an isolated showing of the RHPS at the Jane Pickens Theater (JPT) in Newport in Spring and Summers. If accounts of timing are right, this was perhaps the first showing in Rhode Island. My account was from an informal discussion with owner Joe Jarvis. I questioned him to confirm it had began in Spring 1979, and he corrected me and said it was 1978. Again, no cast at first.
Before RKO Army, there were other casts that we got our beginnings from.
In February of 1979, the Cinerama on Hope Street in Providence became the regular home of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The area’s first cast was the Providence RHPS Cast. Bob Andoscia, who had gone to the first night’s showing at the Showcase, was performing with them as Dr. Scott because he had a wheelchair. He explained the cast and audience participation to us. We became fans of the music from his RHPS album. Interested as I was, I held off going until I had attained my college degree. I promised I’d go once I had graduated college.
Meanwhile, the movie scene down at the Jane Pickens Theater (JPT) in Newport was continuing in Spring/Summer. No cast yet going. At that point, I’m not sure if anyone was dressing up yet there.
True to my promise, I made it to my first show on Memorial Day weekend 1980 immediately after graduating college. It was the same week I began my professional career. Finally, I saw all the music I had listened to in the last year come to life. This was like seeing a new color. At first, I did have some concern at first about the rowdiness of the crowd. However, this was Us. As young people, we were suppose to be into the prototypical high school or college party atmosphere. That never cut it for us. This was the ultimate alternative experience – And some of us really needed that.
This was the coolest thing ever. It was a struggle getting involved, but I absolutely wanted to be involved with this phenomena.
Meanwhile, the movie was still showing down at the Jane Pickens Theater (JPT) in Newport in Spring/Summer. One of the fascinating aspects of Rocky Horror was that this was going on all over the country at the same time. Out of strong curiosity to see what “another” show would look like, I traveled down alone. It was there I meet Chuck Spaulding, who was the lone cast member performing dressed as Riff Raff.
Bob and I were with the Providence Cast until June 1981. After a year, it did not work out personally for us between antagonistic theatre management policies and eventual cast conflicts. In no uncertain terms, Bob & I were gone. After we left, I gather their were more cast conflicts. Also from what I gather, there was no actual end-point. People just left the scene.
In retrospect, despite the bad ending for us personally, I give the cast members much credit for accomplishing what they did under what became antagonistic theatre management. Everyone was very young and inexperienced in life. They were the beginnings in Rhode Island. It was about a 3 year run. At the time, that was a very long run. This was a cast that was not working off any known tradition. They were part of a growth spurt that was happening around the country of the unprecedented Rocky Horror phenomenon. They lasted long enough that the ending cast membership was very different from the original cast membership.