Since 1923, Proctor Street’s hidden gem has been the Blue Mouse Theatre. Once praised as the “finest suburban theatre in the northwest” in the Tacoma News Tribune, it offers affordable movies and culture to all. The Blue Mouse Theatre is also home to the cult classic, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
The journey of newly-engaged Brad and Janet is shown throughout the film as they stumble upon strange and quirky characters. When their car breaks down, a mysterious castle is the first place they find to use a phone to call a tow truck. The naive Brad and Janet enter the spooky castle, finding interesting people at every turn. Once inside, it is apparent that they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The castle is home to Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a mad scientist who takes a peculiar interest in the two. Their curiosity takes a turn as they find out more about the people inside the castle.
Even though “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” made its debut in 1975, the majority of the audience is college-aged. Lined up outside the theatre, people with playful makeup and costumes eagerly wait to get in. Some attend in large groups of 10–15 people; others show up in pairs. Audience members dress up as his or her favorite character but creative costumes outside the realm of the show are always welcome. Buzzing excitement stirs while people wait in line. There is chatter about going to Denny’s after the show and talk about dancing in the aisles from the last time they attended.
The theatre offers prop bags to purchase for $1 to encourage audience participation. Rice, playing cards, toast and toilet paper are included in prop bags. They ask the crowd to throw these items “up and back” during certain scenes of the movie. A small piece of newspaper is given during a scene in which it is raining to hide from the storm. During the show, the audience yells quotes from the movie and dance during the songs. “The Mousketeers” do a shot-by-shot reenactment with makeup and costumes in front of the screen.
The show begins with “the rules,” a major highlight of the night. This breaks the ice so the audience can feel comfortable about getting involved. They go over 10 main rules then ask all first timers, or as “The Blue Mousketeers” refer to them, “virgins” to go on stage for a first time tradition. Some of the rules include, “audience participation and “no open flames.” When the movie finally starts, the audience chants the opening song in excitement. This screening isn’t your average movie nor is it a full theatre production. Phrases shouted are easy to pick up since they are repeated throughout the movie. Two minutes into the movie, the main characters attend a wedding, rice thrown in the audience matches what the characters do on screen. Rice scatters everywhere and loose grains stick to hair and clothes; no one is safe from the airborne props.
Admission ranges from $4–$6 to attend current films and events. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will be playing on Oct. 22 and Oct. 29 as well as on every second and fourth Saturday of the month throughout the year. Doors open at 11 p.m. and the show starts at 11:30 p.m. Even though the film was initially rated PG-13, the language, subject matter and audience participation during the film goes well beyond the original rating. As the Blue Mouse Theatre explains on their website, “It may offend some viewers … as much as it delights others.”
If you have only seen the movie at home, you have never seen it like this. When inside the theatre, it feels like the show comes to life in a way that traditional movies and plays can’t offer. Due to the unconventional setting, viewers have the ability to be loud and have fun without worrying what others will think. In fact, the ruckus enhances the experience. Bizarre as it is, the dark humor and eccentric characters on and off of the screen are nothing short of entertaining.