CHRONOSHRED: The Adventures of Stardust Lazerdong reviewed by Rebecca Juliette

How can you tell the story of the modern artist in modern society and manage to entertain a theater packed full of those same modern artists and aficionados? The fun loving folks of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS) propose that spectacle will always win the day. And they’ve pulled out all the stops on their latest production, CHRONOSHRED: The Adventures of Stardust Lazerdong.

The title alone should prepare you for what’s ahead. But I’m grateful for the hand-stamp guy at the door who let it slip that the audience members should expect to be entertained for about three hours, including intermission. That’s an awful lot of glitter anthems and cock rock — a shiny, laser-shooting cock at that.

In these modern times, Hollywood spends millions to entertain us in movie theater seats for just over an hour. Can a quirky little production about an intergalactic musical cowboy bucking the corporate system be able to keep me from squirming in my seat or, worse yet, busting out my knitting in public out of boredom? Tune in to find out!

Agent Mercury (Melissa LaMartina) presents Stardust Lazerdong (Greg Bowen) and the Galacdicks (C-Mo Molloy, Kathy Carson, Julia Pickens Sine and Griffin Stanbro) with prototype experimental nachos. Photo by Tom McConlologue

The attention to detail in the lobby of the former Everyman Theatre alone was impressive. In addition to the ever present Natty Boh cans, Brewer’s Art was tapped to create a beer especially for the show. Chronobrew was flowing out of a glitzy cock nozzle, nachos (which would feature prevalently in the plot) and snacks were on the offer, and a variety of merchandise and novelties were on display for patrons to view as they milled around in anticipation. The Lazerdong photo cut-out was a, dare I say, “stroke” of genius.

Yes, this particular type of spectacle might just be meant for someone like me. Penis puns galore! A dog actor! Over-the-top rock music played by a live band! Space alien schlongs singing solos! All set up in episode format to make it feel like you are a kid again watching Saturday morning cartoons (I read the program, yes I did). As mentioned before, the attention to detail surrounding the production was copious and decadent.

To start the show, the audience is presented with the history of Stardust Lazerdong and his battle against the evil BizCorp empire via clever video (you can view the pilot below). Then the meat (doh!) of the story is told in an episodic/act format, four in total, that all begin with an intro theme and end with rolling credits.

The first two acts had me hooked thanks in great part to competent, virtuosic parts sung by the leading actors. Greg Bowen is captain fantastic as the ego-driven, gleaming-codpiece-costumed, macho-nacho-munching Stardust Lazerdong. His performance had a Spinal Tap quality to it, in that you could tell he was very seriously joking. After this experience, it will be hard (hehe) to picture him in another production and not see him sparkling before you. Melissa Lamartina matched Bowen’s testosterone-fueled tenor with a powerful turn as Agent Mercury. Her character furthered an “everyone out for themselves” theme as she tried to reignite her family’s record label that had been since sacked (what???) by BizCorp.

Eric Poch as Nebulous, Chief Executive Overlord of BiznizCorps. Photo by Heather Keating.

The basics of the plot are these: BizCorp wants to dominate and homogenize the universe, making their cosmic consumables the only products available to hungry customers. Stardust Lazerdong appears as their one enemy, the only ego not able to be brought into the fold. And he, along with his interstellar band of merry aliens (Ampdroid, played by Griffin Stanbro; Squiddrummer, played by Kathy Carson and Julia Pickens Sine; and Rocky, played by C-Mo Molloy) travel the cosmos, out-partying planetary groupies wherever they go. BizCorp sends in Agent Mercury (Lamartina) and Helios Novalux (Elias Mays Schutzman) to shut down the Stardust mothership and zaniness ensues.

This, according to the program notes, is the story of art and the modern artist. The sky high ego that propels the process of making art, shredding guitar solos in this case, is constantly in search of outside approval and recognition. Stardust Lazerdong may appear as a hero, fighting the corporate takeover of BizCorp, but what really “charges his laser” is fame and adoration. BizCorp, based in capitalist consumer culture, attempts to appear benevolent across the galaxies, but is only chasing profit, with Agent Mercury willing to go to any means necessary to rebuild the family business. And Coxxukulent… ah well, you’ll have to see that one to believe it.

After intermission, I was expecting episodes three and four to really take off. But I don’t know whether it was me or the musical itself that lost steam. I suspect a little of both. By then, the initial novelty has worn off and it is hard to sustain the narrative. The performances by all involved, including the off stage band, were stellar. But in an attempt to boldly go where no space dong has gone before, it went a little bit too far.

Perhaps if I’d kept up my Chronobrew consumption the run time wouldn’t have mattered as much. Because it seems like what the BROS really want to bring to the table is a party… like a 70’s/80’s post arena rock concert, smokin’ in the boys room, getting booted from the hotel, Diamond Dave party. With glitter. And nachos.

The BROS crew gets a standing ovation for their dedication to the art form and for their seamless marketing and presentation. The musical and vocal performances definitely deserve an encore. The only sour note was the stage time and even the most beloved, seasoned performance veterans struggle with knowing how long to hold on to their audiences. Judging by the first weekend of sold out shows, the people of Baltimore are buying what the BROS are selling. Tickets are already selling out for upcoming shows so get them while you still can and crush a couple of cans on your forehead to get in the spirit.

If you can’t make it or miss out, there’s a fundraiser for the BROS March 12th, Swanktacular II. They’ll also have a performance at Light City Baltimore March 31-April 1st. And a revival of an older show, Amphion, is set to hit the sound stage in June.

As Stardust Lazerdong would say, “ride the crunch.”

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Author Rebecca Juliette wants to rock, but currently she plays the mountain dulcimer and only knows three chords. When she’s not playing “Boil That Cabbage Down,” she’s posting events to BmoreArt’s Calendar and Calls for Entry. Email her with yours: [email protected].

*photos courtesy of Rebecca Juliette, except for those credited otherwise.

 

BROS Links: 

Website: www.baltimorerockopera.org
Ticket Page: www.baltimorerockopera.org/chronoshred
Facebook Event page: www.facebook.com/events/938089969597837
Pilot Episode (Trailer): www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcl0ZiX6jqw