The Baltimore Rock Opera Society’s latest creation, Incredibly Dead!, is a damn good time. From the flying severed heads to the ridiculous collection of characters, the B-horror original musical spoof offers a joyride of lunacy and kitsch. Writer and Co-Director Michael Ziccardi’s enthusiasm for the B-horror genre is palpable in every aspect of the production. Each cast member joyfully embraces their weirdo characters, and even the spewing intestines look like they’re having a ball.
A few story lines intertwine in Incredibly Dead!, starting with an evil general (Danielle Robinette) with an appetite for terror and death who has a tumultuous relationship with his daughter (Meghan Stanton). Robinette fills the stage with a diabolical presence akin to a Nazi demon as General Maximillian Morder. Her powerful pipes shine on the opening number, “Mortified,” which also spotlights Stanton’s skillful vocals. Both actors have ass-kicking scenes that clearly place them in the take-no-prisoners category.
Next we meet the grown children of a crooked funeral home owner who have taken over their father’s racket of a business. Silas Cryptz (June Keating) has royally screwed up the corpse of their latest client, who happens to be a member of the powerful family that owns the funeral home building. Reggie Cryptz (Eric Poch) and his brother need to figure out a way to preserve the body so they don’t anger the Coombs family and in effect ruin themselves financially. Poch and Keating are a dynamic duo, each playing off of the other’s strengths—Poch is opportunistic salesman Reggie to Keating’s “aw shucks” means-well Silas. Each have excellent comic timing. (Slapstick, silly comedy is like the lead character of the show.)
The Third grouping in Incredibly Dead! is the wackadoo Coombs family. It’s hard to say much more about their story line without giving some surprises away, but there are singing, flesh-eating ghoul puppets. John Bennett channels a creepy Nathan Lane as Baron Bryson Coombs, brother of the deceased. Constance Coombs (Bonnie Hollyer) is the deceased’s beauty queen trophy wife. And the absolute scene stealer is Molly Margulies as the sister, Catherine Catty Coombs. Margulies throws her entire body into her character, eliciting laughs with the exaggerated facial expressions and limb extensions of a silent B-movie star, or Looney Toons character.
Catty’s offspring are equally as weird. The humpbacked twins, Patience (Lincoln Goode) and Purity (Meghan Taylor), each bring their own brand of creepy. Their cannibal brother, Claude (Trevor Wilhelms), has one of the best numbers in the show, “Claude’s Song,” when he joyfully dances with ensemble members after being freed of his straight jacket.
The Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS) excels at spectacle and fun, and Incredibly Dead! is an incredibly fun theater experience thanks in no small part to all of the work the dozens of people involved with BROS have put into the show. For example, there’s a seven-person team devoted to creating just the “gore” elements (severed body parts, mink-stole-esque intestines, etc.). The props team is 18 strong (creating an impressive head-adorned organ), and the puppets squad involves 15 people. Kat Zotti’s nine-person costume team has created some gorgeous looks—like jewel-toned dresses and leather bustiers.
Always a standout of a BROS show is the band. Cemetariot rocks excellently with the original libretto and powerful voices in Incredibly Dead!. The first act only has three songs, but the second act is packed with music. Cemetariot provides varied musical interludes that make the notably long scene changes bearable, even enjoyable.
The fun starts in the lobby, with zombie old-time movie ushers serving popcorn and “The Chuggernaut” Kölsch-style ale made by Brewer’s Art specifically for the BROS. A new addition to the experience are VIP tickets and memberships where supporters can get extra perks like a free piece of merchandise (including skull enamel pins and original BROS show soundtracks), ticket discounts, and free admission to special BROS fundraising events. It’s all part of BROS’ fundraising campaign to buy their own space to create their intricate sets, props and costumes. When you leave the BROS-built temporary theater at Zion Lutheran Church, BROS volunteers give you high-fives for coming to the show. It’s a full-circle experience. The experience of seeing Incredibly Dead! is joyful, silly, and satisfying. Rock on!