What’s up BROS? Damn do I love a BROS show! The diversity, the costumes, the music, the beer. I mean, is there a better way to spend a Friday night? I packed up some friends, got some Chuggernaut (the brew made for the Baltimore Rock Opera Society by Brewers Art- it is kind of like a Kolsch and all kinds of delicious), and headed out to the Zion church.
We were greeted by zombie bellhops that took our info, stamped our hands, and led us into the party. Incredibly Dead is billed as “B-Horror Rock Opera.” Like any good B-roll movie, the plot is a little over the top, so try to stick with me. General Maximillian Morder is trying to take over the world, and he lost one of the barrels of his secret ingredient. His daughter, Margaux Morder and a team of undead-ish figures go looking for it. In the meantime, The Cryptz Brothers, Reggie and Silas are trying to run a failing funeral home. They’ve run out of embalming fluid, find the magic juice that General Max misplaced, and wallah- they make small demonic figures by accident. They are something like gremlins crossed with dragons and they sing and, you know, eat people. The two paths cross and absurdity ensues.
The opening sequence is actually an old commercial for Cryptz brothers brought to you by Atticus Emerson as Benton Cryptz. His maroon/purple gaudy suit and delivery is pitch perfect for an old 70s late night commercial. As the “commercial” ends, we see the real man behind the façade, and his not nice to his two sons. Fast forward, he dies, and the brothers have taken over. Atticus reprises a role as a singing zombie on a human organ- but more on that later.
The two brothers, Eric Poch as Reggie Cryptz, and June Keating as Silas Cryptz are comic gold. June’s innocence is so poignant, that on the night we attended, when things were looking bleak for Silas, the audience began boo-ing and screaming at the stage. Eric is my favorite kind of comedic actor; he cracks himself up. One of the best things about “I Love Lucy” or for that matter certain “Saturday Night Live” sketches is when the actors can’t keep their own composure in the face of such absurd humor. Eric snickers a few times into his elbow, or at the floor which only seems to leave the audience more in uproar.
Speaking of comic gold, enter on cue with sweeping arm gestures, Molly Margulies as Catherine Catty Coombs. Her ridiculous attempts at acting are utterly mesmerizing. And be honest, how good of an actor do you have to be to make a screwed up face the entire time and pretend to be a really shitty actress with a ridiculous accent to boot? Her daughters, Patience and Purity are portrayed by Lincoln Goode and Meghan Taylor. Their snorts, dolls, and deadpan antics are almost too much to watch. We cracked up so much, we missed some of their lines. And props to their brother, the Hannibal-lecture styled Claude Coombs. Trevor Wilhelms gets all the credit for being able to sing with those facial pieces in place, it looked damn near impossible.
The General is portrayed by a stern and dominatrix-stanced Danielle Robinette. Her smug countenance and spitting epithets make her the villain we all love to hate. Her organ playing is top notch as well (go see the show- you’ll get it). Her daughter, Meghan Stanton as Marguaux Morder has some fabulous one-liners while kicking zombie ass as well.
John Bennett as Baron Bryson Coombs, Bonnie Hollyer and Constance Coombs, and Zilch Powers as Victor Coombs have to pull double duty as grieving family members and as puppet masters for their deformed demonic personalities. Their songs, dances, and lyrics are all done by these talented actors who also just happen to be working puppets.
The set is elaborate, in fact so much so that in the beginning we were concerned about the amount of time the stage is “dark” while stage hands (a ton of them) move and rearrange all the materials. In typical BROS style, they go all out. The down time is extensive in some places though, and audience often talked and made weird noises in the lull.
The band, Cemetariot, was completely on point. If they missed a beat, I did not catch it. Paul Joyce as the lead and on guitar, along with fellow mayhemers seemed to rock out in the back with ease. Again, it was opening night, but perhaps in a few areas the vocals could be brought up a bit and the music turned down a touch. Occasionally the lyrics were drowned out by sweet, sweet rock and roll.
The songs. Oh the songs. If you want to be surprised, heed the warning in your program and do not read the lyrics in advance. But if you can’t resist temptation (and who can’t?) then flip that bad boy pre-show and quench your thirst on things like, “We’ll drop some acid with the damnedest of souls/Roast hot dogs off a stripper pole.” Paul Joyce and Greg Bowen are either lyrical geniuses or completely insane. Maybe it is somewhere in between.
Again, in what has become a BROS signature, the crew list is extensive. From builders, to puppeteers, there is a person assigned to everything. Their volunteers must be paid in beer! I would work for free chuggernauts! At the end of the night, my friend, who was a BROS virgin by the way, looked over while polishing off her Natty Boh, and said, “that was fucking awesome.” And that sort of says it all.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? What are you waiting for? You should be there now! Go stalk them! I adore their productions and this one was the first I’ve seen in the comedy genre and damn did they nail it! It is a side-splittingly funny with typical b-film humor. If you are a stick in the mud, then skip it I guess, but for the rest of society, brush off your doc martens, find our old denim jacket with all the patches and buttons, and swank your way down to Zion Church for beer, laughs, and a damn fine show. (I)
Running time two hours with one fifteen-minute intermission. Runs through June 3rd at the Zion Church of the City of Baltimore, 400 E. Lexington Street. Photo Credit: Heather Keating.