Long Beach's Art Theatre was packed as fans came from various places to see the first sold-out shadow cast performance of Forbidden Zone in history. The night's festivities included a free gig by the Radioactive Chickenheads at Lola's Mexican Cuisine and a Q&A and singing with director Richard Elfman after the shadow cast performance.
The night started with the Radioactive Chickenheads unpacking their costumed brand of zany punk rock at Lola's Mexican Cuisine, across from the Art Theatre before the main event. Inside the tiny restaurant, the sight of the band dressed in fruit masks and Elfman dancing on top of a table set the tone of the night as fans congregated outside in hopes of catching a glimpse of the shenanigans inside.
Meanwhile others formed a line outside the Art Theatre and watched from afar as band members would randomly run outside and into the street. Fans were able to take pictures with the Cell 63 cast, buy Forbidden Zone DVDs and t-shirts made specifically for the event. The atmosphere was much like another Saturday night performance by local Rocky Horror Picture Show troupe Midnight Insanity, only much larger.
Once inside, Erin Holt, an actress in Elfman's Forbidden Zone 2, opened the show by performing a song from the sequel. The lights dimmed soon after and Elfman, sporting a clown suit and banging a bass drum, paraded down the aisles along with the Cell 63 cast and the Radioactive Chickenheads.
As the opening credits of the film began, a fan shouted “Let there be lips!” making everyone laugh at the Rocky Horror reference.
A scene that really got the crowd going wild was when Diego Sanson, who played “Squeezit,” took stage and was decapitated by Elfman, who played the part of “Satan” (originally performed by brother Danny Elfman).
Although “Forbidden Zone” was getting the Rocky treatment, there was hardly any shouting at the screen and instead only cheers during sexual scenes and singing along during musical numbers. There seemed to be a greater appreciation for this cult film being shadow casted–a performance where actors stand on stage and play out a movie projected behind them, basically pantomiming the film.
The Cell 63 cast were on beat with their acting as they hardly had any mix-ups–quite a feat considering they'd only been rehearsing for three months. Mandi Wallingford, a Rocky Horror veteran resulted with greater love for “Forbidden Zone” after the event.
“Me and Diego have been doing Rocky for over twenty years, so we're used to only doing one character,” Wallingford commented. “This is the first time we played a different role than what we're used to and its just been amazing! I want to play Frenchy every weekend now!”
After the show, fans got to ask Elfman their burning film geek questions in a fifteen-minute Q&A and get merchandise signed by him.
Despite the idea of the shadow cast performance being a one-time thing, Logan Crow, owner of the Long Beach Cinematheque, felt like it would be silly to only have it for night after the success of the event.
“I think Mondo, LBC, and Richard, I think we've created history tonight and we plan to take the show beyond Long Beach,” said Crow. “We're talking about going to Vegas, LA, San Francisco… I'd love the challenge to keep working with the cast.”
The fact that fans traveled from London and Arizona to experience the show, we wouldn't be surprising if Forbidden Zone instantly becomes a staple in midnight shadow cast screenings.