TRAVERSE CITY — Ashleigh Hanchett's mom dressed in costume for midnight showings of "The Rocky Horror Show" when the rock musical was young.
Now Hanchett is a second-generation fan of the campy cult classic.
"It has the same power that it had in the 1970s and people seem to love it. They come out in droves," said Hanchett, who saw the stage play twice, performed in an area community theater production and owns a copy of the movie version of the show. "Now the younger generations are hearing about it. They're showing up, dressing in costume, having parties. It kind of bridges that generational gap."
Hanchett stars in a local revival of "The Rocky Horror Show," July 18-July 21 at the City Opera House. The show — at 8 p.m. daily plus midnight on Friday and Saturday — is the first project of Four Cornered Productions, whose partners include "Rocky Horror" veterans Brian Dungjen and Brett Nichols.
"Brett and I have been talking about producing stuff for some time now and we figured that this would be a good project to start with," said Dungjen, who met Nichols when both worked on a 2006 Old Town Playhouse production of the show.
"Rocky Horror" revolves around the adventures of lost sweethearts Brad and Janet, who stumble upon a spooky convention at the home of cross-dressing scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter. His mission: To discover the secret to life in order to help propagate his species on the planet Transsexual, in the galaxy of Transylvania.
What follows is a wild night of seductions, orgies, murder and cannibalism during which Frank-N-Furter's creation, Rocky Horror, is born and the young couple is transformed.
Audience participation is a huge part of the interactive show. Fans dress up as characters in corsets and fishnet stockings, shout back lines, wave props — throwing is strictly prohibited at the City Opera House — and sing along to songs like "Sweet Transvestite" and "Damn it Janet." There's even a mating dance to the song, "Time Warp."
"It's a rock show, so it's very much like going to a rock concert," said Hanchett, who dyed her hair blond to play the "June Cleaver-esque" Janet. "The more fun the audience is having, the more fun we're having."
Audience members can buy a $5 "goodie bag" of props, which includes a squirt gun and a newspaper to hold overhead during the rain scene, a noisemaker and a rubber glove to snap during the creation scene, and playing cards to wave during the song, "I'm Going Home," which features the lyrics, "Cards for sorrow, cards for pain."
Show newbies or "virgins" — initiated in a pre-show ritual — can follow the ushers' lead, Dungjen said. Members of the Traverse City roller derby team Bay Side Bombshells will serve as celebrity ushers for the July 20 and 21 shows.
Dungjen, who doubles as the show's director and cloned servant character, Riff Raff, said he pulled out all the stops for the "racy" show.
"If I think something is funny or appropriate, I'm just going to have (cast members) do it," he said, adding that the stage play by Richard O'Brien has much of the spirit of the movie but with a live rock band and fewer scene and costume stages, as on Broadway. "Allowing myself to have full rein and freedom and encouraging people to go for it is a lot of fun."
Tickets range from $20 for basic admission to $90 for "The Ultimate Rocky Experience.
Doors and a cash bar open an hour before the show.
For tickets or more information visit www.fourcorneredproductions.com or www.cityoperahouse.org.