The first time you look at the Showtime Theater, the word that comes to mind is most certainly not “epic.”
The outside is presentable, though the neighborhood around it is typically Baltimorean; the inside is in shambles — half due to the wear and tear of time, and half due to the major restorations that are currently in progress.
It is hard to believe that it looked worse before, but the members of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS) assured the audience that before they took on the monumental task of restoring this historic Baltimore movie theater, it used to be covered in dead rat carcasses.
In addition to the monumental task of restoring their theater — a job they undertook in Oct. when Billie Taylor bought the theater and contacted them with her plans for renovation — the BROS are also writing, producing, directing and performing original rock operas to be premiered there beginning in late May.
So, at least patrons of the theater can label the difficulty and time frame of their undertakings “epic” - a good start, since that one word is the cornerstone of this entire operation.
Some background information on this exciting, bohemian organization: founded in 2007, this active and energetic community theater group aims to produce original live rock operas in Baltimore. In 2009, their first show, Gründlehämmer was a huge success, selling out six nights and totaling 1,800 tickets over just two weekends.
According to them, “In the short time since five friends first sat around a dining room table late into the night conceiving an epic, awe-inspiring tale of a six-armed, metal-playing beast and the laser-studded guitar trapped inside him, the Rock Opera Society has come a long way.”
The BROS combine hard independent work with grandiose productions. According to Managing Director Dylan Koehler, the genius of BROS lies in their ability to “bridge the gap” between small DIY productions and larger scale performances. Because of this unique position in the realm of performers, their new venue is quite ideal.
As Koehler explained, there aren’t a lot of medium-sized venues (the Showtime Theater seats 285): “It will be a community space.” They hope to work with Taylor to program lectures, movies and of course, their original rock operas in the soon-to-be renovated Showtime Theater.
With around two dozen volunteers working on the renovations and over 60 people involved in the actual productions — actors, band, costumes, sets, props, etc. — it’s easy to see that the BROS campaign is, as Koehler claims, “epic and ridiculous.”
Their motto, “in panton redundo” or “everything in excess” attests to the proportions of their projects. They utilize as many ideas from as many people as possible to make what happens on stage “really pop.”
According to Ryan Brown, the acting director of Amphion, the first in their soon-to-be double feature, the Showtime Theater is “older than time itself. But it is the first iteration of the BROS “rock palace.” Eventually, he said, they want to build a mecca of rock, an island that has festivals year round.
So, the group is ridiculous, the venue is epic, but what about the shows? The double feature coming soon to the Showtime Theater consists of Amphion, a historical tragedy, and The Terrible Secret of Lunastus, a lighthearted sci-fi adventure.
Each rock opera is unique, original, about an hour long and these two contrasting pieces together are the latest in the BROS legacy of “epically conceived, highly-crafted rock drama.”
The music, too, is epic and original. Amphion, for instance features “a mélange of rock styles contribute the soundtrack, including surf-rock anthems followed by tender piano ballads, with heavy doses of psychedelic and ‘80s rock in between.” Amphion even utilizes a rock choir.
For The Terrible Secret of Lunastus, “A sweeping, atmospheric, space rock soundtrack of live, original music has been composed to thrill, amaze and tug the heartstrings of our audiences.”
Article I of the BROS charter reads: “There will be beer at all BROS gatherings.”
They also recently passed a resolution that they support pizza. In the lobby of the partially-finished Showtime Theater is their bar graph of the relative epic-ness of various endeavors — needless to say, they are light-years ahead of the Internet.
Their renovations almost completed, the rehearsals beginning, it appears that their new double feature will be almost as epic as a production can get.
“The result of this diverse arrangement of talent is a sum greater than the whole of its parts: an innovative musical theatre experience built upon the interactions between a wide variety of imaginative minds.”
To learn more about BROS, head to their website: http://baltimorerockopera.org.
There you can find out about their “family and friends” campaign for cash to increase their production budget. you can learn more about their past and future productions and you can buy tickets.
You can even get active, join their ranks, gain an epic title and drink plenty of beer.