Baltimore Rock Opera Society Hits the High Seas with ‘Brides of Tortuga’

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Courtesy Baltimore Rock Opera Society
Courtesy Baltimore Rock Opera Society

Baltimore’s one and only dedicated rock opera troupe has been prepping for a nautical musical voyage that begins next Friday.

The Baltimore Rock Opera Society has been making waves this season while prepping for its eighth full show. Members of the troupe, named Best Local Theater Company in City Paper’s 2016 Readers’ Poll, could be seen around town over the last couple months dressed in 17th-century naval and pirate garb. They were perhaps most visible during their Oct. 6 preview performance aboard the recently returned Pride of Baltimore II.

All of the fanfare was designed to promote “Brides of Tortuga,” a period piece set in 1661 during the reign of King Louis XIV. It begins in the northern French port town of Calais, where French freedom fighter Charlotte, her accomplice, Mary, and an inexperienced crew head to sea while being closely pursued by the French Navy.

“It’s kind of a revenge tale. It’s about women taking control of their destiny,” says Baltimore Rock Opera Society Managing Director Shannon Light Hadley. The concept revolves around pirate brides — women captured and brought to Tortuga to be sold to pirates. In the show, Charlotte and Mary, along with their cast, and set sail to liberate those women.

“It’s a large task and a very diverse group of women on the ship,” Hadley notes. “They all have to learn to get along and be unified towards a singular goal.”

Down in the Caribbean Sea, the show is said to arrive at a violent conclusion. Simply put by its creators, “Brides of Tortuga” is “a powerful statement about rage, self-determination and kicking ass on a boat.”

The promo for the show released earlier this week is both dark and enchanting.

As with their other shows, the performance promises an epic fusion of singing from its cast and live music from an ensemble with a rock band and string, horn and percussion sections.

The performances will take place at Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, Md. Hadley says it is the opera troupe’s largest venue yet, with more than 700 seats. They’re be loading into the space this week, providing some relief for their Station North headquarters, which Hadley says it “full to the brim with ships, boats and cannons.”

Guests at opening weekend are invited to come dressed in their Halloween best.

“Brides of Tortuga” runs from Friday, Oct. 28, through Saturday, Nov. 12. Shows take place on Fridays and Saturdays. Click here for more info and to purchase tickets.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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