Theatergoers may feel like they are indeed in a time warp while wearing a new LED wristband at The University of Texas at Dallas theater and dance programs’ production of “The Rocky Horror Show” beginning Halloween night.
The PixMob light-emitting diode wristbands will be provided to all audience members; show producers say it is one of the first times the technology has been used at a university theater production.
“We will be the first theater in Texas and, I’m fairly certain, the first university theater anywhere to use them,” said Shelby Hibbs, show director and clinical assistant professor in the School of Arts and Humanities (A&H).
The technology — the infrared devices are controlled and synchronized — has primarily been used for major concerts and sporting events.
“The Rocky Horror Show” has become a cult classic, where audience interaction with the actors and the production is part of the experience.
Christopher Treviño, assistant technical director in A&H, said he and his team will be regulating when the lights are on and off, and what color they are. But he said the audience will take it from there.
“This is going to engage the audience. Everybody’s wristband is going to light up; they’re going to be doing the ‘Time Warp,’ and it’s going to be a big party,” Treviño said.
The wristbands were not originally accounted for in the show’s budget, but Hibbs and Treviño thought they would be a perfect fit with “Rocky Horror.” So, Hibbs set out to raise money through Impact UTD, a campus crowdsourcing platform.
Recently, the project had reached 87% of the goal, and, even with some funding left to go, the school finalized a purchase of 2,000 wristbands — enough for every “Rocky Horror” audience member to receive one.
“The whole idea seemed a little daunting. But the cast was behind this. Because of their commitment to help raise the money, we thought we could do it,” Hibbs said.
“The Rocky Horror Show” is a stage musical created as a parody tribute to bad horror and science fiction films. After it debuted in London in 1973, it was adapted into the film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in 1975, which became a cult classic. Fans returned often to see it and talk back to the screen — even dressing as the characters and bringing props to the show.
“There’s a whole script of things you are supposed to say at different points in ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ — mostly things that are witty and comical because the movie is so absurd,” Hibbs said. “That has transferred into ‘The Rocky Horror Show,’ the musical. It’s essentially the same script.”
“The Rocky Horror Show” will debut at UT Dallas on Halloween night, in a free performance, and will continue Nov. 1-2 and Nov. 7-9 at the University Theatre. On Nov. 9, there will be a regular evening performance as well as a midnight show.
“I’m really excited about the show,” Hibbs said. “I think it’s going to be a special experience for the audience. I already know they’re going to be engaged, but allowing them to be really, truly part of the theatrical design and then having a souvenir to take home — I think it’s going to be really cool.”