Heroic Measures: “1814! The Rock Opera” Shook Creative Alliance (Almost) All Night Long

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photos by Paul Muri

1814! The Rock Opera previewed three songs on Sunday night at the Creative Alliance, in partnership with the Baltimore Rock Opera Society. Standup Jim Meyer hosted. David Dudley, show’s co-creator with Dave Israel, told Baltimore Fishbowl the highlight for him was watching the singers “hurl themselves into” their performances.

“Two weeks ago, we didn’t even know these characters,” Dudley explained. “We’d only rehearsed with them a handful of times, and in those practices the singers were too busy learning their parts to really get into the more theatrical elements of the show. So it was quite a shock to see them on stage, going for broke.”

Several audience members wore 19th-century garb, “including a bunch of intrepid representatives of the BRO,” Dudley said. “These people live to create, and patronize, insane rock spectacles.”

Moira Horowitz as Mary Pickersgill.

“Ah, 1814! Both fun and funny,” commented attendee (and Baltimore Fishbowl contributor) Michael Yockel, “especially the two Daves’ Meatloafian power ballad ‘Big-Ass Flag,’ which might have made the Top 10 in the Era of the Power Ballad.”

The men responsible for "1814," David Dudley and Dave Israel.

BFB contributor John Barry was also in attendance. Barry’s favorite number the same: “Big Ass Flag.”

“It was sung by two people, a man and a woman, in the style of Meat Loaf’s ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ with Steinmanesque vocals,” Barry said, adding that Yockel tagged the analogy. “A rousing and operatic reminder that when it comes to flags, even to the initially dubious Betsy Ross, size does matter. Despite the high quality of the performances…the best moment was reading the sometimes-hard-to-read historical type on the video background. It provided a brief history of 1812 to 1814, which I hope people in our nation’s capital are reading. Because it reminds them that if it wasn’t for Baltimore, the White House would be Prince Andy’s pied-á-terre.”

Because cast and crew staged the preview, not only for Baltimore fans, but for a Canadian TV crew, they found themselves performing the entire set three times to satisfy shooters.

Initially, Dudley said he worried the repeat performances would become tiresome. He was pleasantly — and patriotically — surprised.

“By the final take, the audience participation really amped up,” Dudley said. “Truly, it seemed to kind of take on a life of its own. It ended with the crowd taking up an impromptu singing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’”

A full production of the opera premieres in September — stay tuned.

"Robert Bradley is the terrifying Rear Admiral George Cockburn, in the red coat." This photo by Marianne Amoss.



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