Part Two: “Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein: Landless Making a Monster Rock Opera”: Meet Andrew Baughman

This is part two in a series of interviews with the cast and creative team behind Landless’ upcoming prog-metal rock opera Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein. Today, meet Andrew Baughman.

Andrew Baughman. Photo by Amanda Williams Photography.

Andrew Baughman. Photo by Amanda Williams Photography.

Andrew Baughman plays “Dr. Victor Frankenstein.” Baughman is the Producing Artistic Director of Landless Theatre Company where his rock musical performances have included Diamond Dead, High Fidelity A Musical and President Harding is a Rock Star. Regionally, he has appeared as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Captain Walker in The Who’s Tommy, and the title roles of Jekyll and Hyde. Baughman is a playwright and composer whose work has been produced at the New York International Fringe Festival.We asked Baughman a few questions about his involvement:

Ally: You wear a lot of hats around Landless Theatre Company. How many are you wearing for this production?

Andrew: Well, I’m pretty much just an actor in Frankenstein, and that’s more than enough to tackle this time! As Artistic Director, I have a hand in overall season programming, development of new work, and casting – then it becomes the production director’s show. I worked a little with Richard Campbell to develop the text from concept album to stage production. I also assisted Music Director Jack Sossman with vocal arrangement and direction, but honestly, our cast members are such master artists in metal, prog and rock that it was more just a matter of coordination.

How did you meet composer Richard Campbell?

I discovered Richard’s work on Spotify doing a generic search using the words “rock opera.” Richard wrote a popular prog-rock Christmas medley, and a rock opera based on Orpheus. Frankenstein had just been released, and though I was initially interested in producing Orpheus, it seemed that Frankenstein was going to be better suited for a theatrical production. To my surprise and delight, Richard responded to an email I sent him, and rather immediately agreed to give Landless the performance rights. He mentioned that he had hoped to see it produced in London so that he could be more directly involved (and I was frankly surprised that no U.K. company had scooped it first), but he thought a U.S. production would be ok. He’ll be flying in to see the show on June 22nd.

How does the Landless production differ from the original concept album?

On the concept album, Victor Frankenstein narrates his own story. It seemed to us that for dramatic staging purposes, it would be better to “show” rather than “tell” events, so we incorporated Robert Bradley’s character of Walton into the story as a narrator. It also made the music more dynamic to incorporate more than one voice. There was  a section that Richard felt was light on story in the album involving Frankenstein’s maid Justine (played in our production by Devin Gaither), so I added a bit of text directly from the novel. In telling the story on stage, we also wanted to differentiate the principal voices a bit more than the recording, so that informed the casting: Robert’s Walton is a power-metal tenor; my Dr. Frankenstein is a dramatic prog-rock baritone; Irene Jericho brings an operatic metal soprano quality to Elizabeth; and Greg Bowen’s Creature is a legit bass. Otherwise, it’s pretty close to the concept album, which is ridiculously challenging to perform live.

Introduce us to your character.

I play Dr. Victor Frankenstein, a man who becomes obsessed with the idea of bringing the dead back to life after his mother passes away. It’s cool to play an iconic literary character, and Richard’s version of the character is very close to the novel.

How do you relate to your role?

(Laughs). Well, like most artists, I have some experience with good intentioned projects that go horribly wrong. You become obsessed with the dream and the vision, and you ignore the signs to give up, then sometimes you find yourself in a quagmire.

What experience do you have with prog-rock or metal music?

I’m classically trained, but I have an appreciation for all genres of music, and draw upon many as a vocalist and composer. My wife [Director Melissa Baughman] is the metal-head, she has introduced me to a lot of bands over the past decade, and taken me to see Iron Maiden and Queensryche in concert. I will admit that seeing Bruce Dickinson perform live changed everything for me as a musical performer, and made me question if musical theatre was the right path for me! My work in Diamond Dead has crossed over into metal and punk, as have my collaborations with Composer Jen Tonon.

Your wife Melissa Baughman is directing this show. What’s it like working with your wife as your director?

You know, there’s an openness between us that can be a blessing or a curse. In most director-actor relationships, you go your separate ways after rehearsal, and you never get to really know what the other person is thinking – whether it be frustration or adulation. I must be a terrible diva to work with because Melissa likes to give me direction outside of rehearsal, she says she doesn’t want to surprise me.

Melissa has a history of directing successful rock musicals. How would you describe her directing style.

The interesting thing is that she comes from a production background, and usually tends to be more focused on technical elements, but she gets really specific with actors when directing a rock musical. I think it’s because she’s such a fan of rock music. She has a very strong vision of what she wants to see as an audience member. It’s awesome.

Andrew Baughman in "Diamond Dead.' Photo courtesy of Mia Pink Photography.

Andrew Baughman in “Diamond Dead.’ Photo courtesy of Mia Pink Photography.

What kind of direction has she given you for Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein?

She has asked me to model Victor’s physicality after King Diamond, and we’ve been watching a lot of youtube concert footage. It has been fascinating to notice how similar rock opera and classical opera can be. That’s the aesthetic she’s going for.

You’re also a staff writer here at DCMetro TheaterArts. Does that ever influence your work at Landless?

Absolutely! Since I have been writing for DCMTA, I have seen so many inspiring actors and productions ranging from student productions at Act Two @ Levine all the way to Signature Theatre. In fact, I first saw Robert Bradley and Greg Bowen perform when I reviewed Baltimore Rock Opera Society’s Valhella last year. Greg is an incredibly intense and committed actor, and Robert is one of the most impressive singers I have ever known. It’s an honor to share the stage with those guys. DCMTA has helped me discover some amazing local talent.

What’s next for you on the stage?

I wrote a mash-up that is playing in our 3rd Annual Mashup Festival, which runs concurrently with Frankenstein at GALA (10 PM on weekends). My show is Trapped in the Convent (a mash-up of The Sound of Music and R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet), and it is directed by my talented friend and colleague Karissa Swanigan. As far as acting goes, I’ll next appear in the CapFringe production of Haute Mess, a dark satire about the fashion industry from the creators of Spidermusical. and Perez Hilton Saves the Universe, directed by Ian Allen of the former Cherry Red Productions.

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Landless Theatre Companys production of Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein plays June 8-30, 2013 at GALA Hispanic Theatre – 3333 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. Purchase tickets online. For more information, visit Landless Theatre Company’s website.

LINKS
Andrew Lloyd Baughman’s website.

Read Part One: “Richard Campbell’s Frankenstein: Making a Monster Rock Opera”: Meet Robert Bradley.

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