Rocky Horror Picture Show suddenly cancelled, organizers blame SGB


Sarah Cutshall | Staff Photographer

Then-senior Delena Obermaier played the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter at Pitt’s production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” last October.

By Sarah Connor and Christian Snyder

Update: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is back on. Read the full story here

The annual production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” — put on every October by Pitt’s Engineering Student Council — was abruptly cancelled for its 2018 run.

The cast list had been revealed to the cast and crew less than two weeks ago on Sept. 26. Students involved in this year’s “Rocky Horror” received an email Monday evening that the show was cancelled due to funding issues within the Engineering Student Council, according to the show’s director Drew Maks.

“Dearest cast,” he wrote. “Today’s was supposed to be a happy email with a show poster, notes, and congratulations on yesterday’s rehearsal but instead I’m tasked with the horrible job of letting you know about the the cancellation of RHPS this year.”

Maks said the Engineering Student Council encountered budget problems this year that led to the cancellation of the show, which he wrote were “mostly due to the inability of the Student Government Board to govern with the best interests of students in mind.” The email did not elaborate, and The Pitt News has contacted Maks for further comment.

Maks also criticized SGB for its perceived lack of support for the LGBTQ+ production.

“In a time when the rights of LGBTQ members of the community are being assaulted, Student Government Board has taken away another safe space that welcomed all kinds of people with open arms,” he wrote.

In a phone call Monday evening, SGB President Maggie Kennedy said the board didn’t have as large of a role in the cancellation as the email made it seem.

“The rhetoric of it is saying we have done something to actively shut them down right now, mid-production, and that is not the case,” she said. “We haven’t done or said anything to shut them down.”

Kennedy explained how the decision was made by last year’s board and came down to rules about what SGB is allowed to allocate funding for.

“In spring semester last year, [ESC] requested for $2,600 and we gave them $1,600. And the only reason the other $1,000 was cut was because that accounted for line items for things that aren’t fundable by SGB, like paper party hats and other non-reusable items,” she said. “It was not specific to that event, these allocations being denied.”

The Pitt News has contacted the Engineering Student Council for comment.

Kennedy also felt “frustrated” about the criticism toward SGB — both the comment that it doesn’t govern in the best interest of students and the comment that SGB eliminated a safe space.

“I really believe in the mission of the show and creating safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community,” she said. “I know that I and nobody else from SGB would ever do anything intentionally to shut down anything like this.”