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Student Lives Double Feature Life

Marina Schneider, Contributing writer

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UPDATED at 12:11 p.m. Dec. 10

During the week Danielle Roberts, a 20-year-old, baby-faced blonde with green eyes, is focused on final exams, projects and deadlines on school papers for the end of the semester. On the weekends, however; the outwardly shy Roberts exposes another side of her many talents, disrobing almost to nothing except high heels, fishnets, panties and a bright red corset.
Since joining The Denton Affair, an amateur group of actors, two and a half years ago, Roberts metamorphoses herself into the main character Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the infamous transvestite scientist of the cult classic movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” every other Saturday in local cinemas.
“People have commented on how reserved I am in class and how shameless I am in the play,” she said with a giggle.

The Show

“The Rock Horror Picture Show” is not your regular play nor does it have a regular audience. So if you are not a virgin, as a person seeing the play for the first time is called, you should know that “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (RHPS) started as a musical movie in the ‘70s. The movie plot evoked struggles about sexuality and morals fervent at that time. Then amateur groups started performing it live in movie theaters cultivating an underground following all over.
The play is performed by live actors while the real movie plays on the screen in the background. The live actors “shadow” or mimic the film actors taking cues from the music or other sounds in the movie, which seems to be an extremely difficult task. Unlike regular movie theaters where people will shush you if you talk, as a participant audience you are encouraged to speak your mind and shout your discontentment about a character or to vent your frustration at any current issues. Anything goes.

How Roberts fits in

“I think it is an escape,” said Roberts, contemplating her own trajectory from a well-behaved environment at Mount Healthy High School, where as a senior she wrote, directed and starred in her first play. The gay and lesbian community makes up for most of the RHPS’s loyal audience and they have a sense of belonging with the group. At least, this is still a “conservative town,” she observed.
The audience that faithfully comes out for every show dresses accordingly with their favorite character and, with phrases and gestures memorized to follow each scene, they make the show lively and refreshingly spontaneous. “We know who they are; they became part of the show,” Roberts said.
A self-proclaimed nerd with “going to libraries” among her hobbies, Roberts said she inherited her passion for writing from her mother Catherine and her “hard-headedness” from her father, Harold. Majoring in journalism with a minor in political science, Roberts aspires to become a writer. She has been working on a novel for the last three years, as her busy schedule permits.
Politically engaged and a firm advocate for animal rights and pro-life, Roberts doesn’t fit the mold of a conservative per se. She is a conservative who gets along well, and hangs out, with a liberal crowd. While some of her friends don’t always agree with some of her extreme views on certain issues, they admire her commitment to her causes.
Paula Gerhardt, who met Roberts through The Denton Affair “Rocky Horror” cast, said, “She is hard to bond with, but once you do, she is nothing but delightful. Very trusting and works at her full potential all the time.”

On the side

Juggling her studies, her role with the RHPS and a part-time job – she works a couple days a week at Respite Care, helping an autistic patient to go outside in her neighborhood—Roberts found time to create the group Coalition for Animal Rights Enthusiasts (CARE) at NKU. As a vegetarian, she wants people to stop eating animals. She also supports Northern Right to Life and Common Ground, a gay and lesbian group, on NKU’s campus.
Alyssa Rae Cousineau, who knows Roberts from the show and school, said she is one of the most inspiring people she knows. She still remembers the day when, walking to class, she saw Roberts standing outside the Student Union handing out little bags of animal crackers with notes on them that said, “Let this be the only animal you eat today. Join CARE Club!”
Roberts’s mother, Catherine, said the fact that her daughter is dedicated to her causes shows her concerns about a fair and balanced society. “She is intelligent and serious, so she needs an outlet,” she said.

The family weighs in

Although her parents support Roberts in almost everything she does, they split opinions with concern to her participation in the notorious “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
“At first, I was a little concerned about her young age, but she has shown maturity over this experience and learned a lot about people,” her mother said.
Her father hasn’t seen the show yet. Through an email, he explained that he has very conservative values and does not appreciate the humor in the movie. He is also concerned about how much time and money she spends on the show. The actors need to buy their own costumes and they are not paid to perform.
Both of her parents respect that Roberts follows her own mind and will make wise decisions. One animal cracker at the time.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” next performance is Dec. 8 at The Esquire Theatre in Clifton, at midnight. For more information, visit www.RHPS.net.

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Student Lives Double Feature Life