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Roxy's Rocky Horror tradition returns for Halloween — thanks to Blue Bridge theatre

It’s the one night of the year you won’t get shushed or kicked out of the theatre for talking back to the screen. And no one will stare if you’re laden with lipstick and lingerie — especially fishnet stockings — or if you dance in the aisles.
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The 1975 cult rock opera parody has two showings tonight.

It’s the one night of the year you won’t get shushed or kicked out of the theatre for talking back to the screen.

And no one will stare if you’re laden with lipstick and lingerie — especially fishnet stockings — or if you dance in the aisles.

Yes, Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre is upholding a Roxy tradition with Halloween screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show tonight at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Tickets, $16, are available at the door.

Whether you’re a Rocky Horror veteran or “virgin” — the term for someone who hasn’t yet experienced the 1975 cult rock opera parody with fellow enthusiasts who get in on the act — it’s a one-of-a-kind experience.

Costumes are encouraged, and, as Rocky-heads know, there are plenty more opportunities to make cheeky “callbacks” and throw props such as rice, newspaper, playing cards and toast on cue during a movie that brims with sexual innuendo.

Since the film version of The Rocky Horror Show, Richard O’Brien’s musical spoof of sci-fi and horror movies, made its American première 39 years ago at the Roxy in Los Angeles, it seems only natural Rocky Horror screenings be held at our own Roxy.

Blue Bridge artistic producer Brian Richmond had hoped tonight’s event would mark the last night of the “old Roxy,” with the “new Roxy” unspooling the first of its series of curated screenings next week, but technical issues remain.

“The main obstacle is still the projector,” said Richmond, whose staff is still attempting to acquire a state-of-the-art digital projection system to replace the Roxy’s 35-millimetre equipment.

“It’s a lengthy process, longer than we hoped,” said Richmond, nevertheless buoyed by a generous donor who has put up $100,000 and pledged to match that if Blue Bridge can raise another $100,000 toward renovations to transform the cinema into a mixed-use facility for live theatre, music, other performances and screenings. The company has raised $35,000 so far.

The non-profit is slowly nearing the point where it’s eligible to apply for Heritage Canada and B.C. Creative Spaces funding.

“We’re treating the theatre as a work-in-progress,” said Richmond, whose army of community supporters has been gradually cleaning, painting, decorating and upgrading sound systems. Makeshift dressing rooms are also being installed, as well as a stage and a steel structure to accommodate a lighting grid in time for the Nov. 19 première of Sam Shepard’s True West.

One topic the board has spent a lot of time talking about is washrooms, Richmond added with a laugh.

The Roxy has two existing washrooms and the hope is to expand capacity once a building out back can be torn down.

Meanwhile, some “very pleasant and clean” portable washrooms have been rented for playgoers to use in the short term.

While awaiting final approval of its liquor licence application, the Roxy will apply for special-occasion permits, he said.

“One of the nice things about taking over a movie theatre is that it’s got cupholders,” said Richmond, who envisions programming such as curated showings of films with themes related to his stage shows to complement regular screen fare.

Rebekah Johnson has been hired as the Roxy’s general manager, he confirmed.

“This is a whole new game for us,” said Richmond. “We’ve been a production theatre for the past five years using the superbly managed McPherson Playhouse, and now we’re also running a venue.”

mreid@timescolonist.com