Since its debut in 2009, the Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS) has become known for its fantastical performances that often incorporate elements of sci-fi, action, gore, and horror. So it might come as a surprise that the troupe has never put on an actual Halloween show.
“It feels like it’s been a long time coming,” says BROS artistic director Aran Keating. “There’s always been a close affiliation with BROS and Halloween. The art around Halloween just matches so well with the core of what we try to put on stage.”
It wasn’t until one of the BROS recent “pitch parties”—in which the company invites the community to submit their original rock opera ideas—that the group was inspired to explore the possibility of producing a show tied to the spooky holiday.
“This is our take on Halloween attractions,” Keating says. “It’s not a haunted house, it’s not a magic show, and it’s not a theatrical show. It’s some sort of combination of all those things. You come in and you’ll have a seated experience in this sort of creepy, old museum.”
The Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture downtown will be the venue for Lurid Happenings: A Night of Mischief and Devilry, which runs October 26-28 with a special performance on Halloween night. Each evening will feature an early performance at 7:30 p.m., followed by a later show at 9:45 p.m.
The story follows The Amazing Allerdyce, played by local actor Rex Anderson, and his peculiar assistant Sinifredo, played by magician Lucas Gerace, who have recently returned from a globe-trotting exploration of the dark arts. Incorporating magic and audience participation, the show promises to “test your fears, and perhaps even provide a little guidance from the spirits just beyond your vision.”
“It’s about the depths of human desire,” Keating explains, being careful not to reveal too many details. “Where does following those desires lead you? And what types of unsavory turns might you take? It explores the ways it can all go wrong when people band together and human nature takes over.”
Though the summer’s Incredibly Dead was billed as the BROS’ final performance of 2018 and they normally just host a Halloween party, Lurid Happenings felt like a nice way to expand on those festivities.
“We all wanted to do something more than just throw a party,” Keating says. “We’ve experimented with little scripted narrative performances that happen at those parties, but it never gives us full access to an audience’s attention. We really want to take you through something that grips you.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a BROS Halloween event without dancing and drinks. Each evening will feature a party in The Peale Center’s top-floor gallery space where attendees can sip cocktails and enjoy interactive entertainment while jamming to live music from local rockers Quattracenta October 26-27, Voodoo Pharmacology on October 28, and HexGirlfriends on October 31. The reception is set to begin after the first performance of the evening, and it will be open to audiences of both shows.
While Keating is looking forward to closing out the year with Lurid Happenings, he is also excited for what’s to come in 2019. Aside from planning new productions (he teases an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure rock opera as a possibility for next year), the company is preparing for a big move.
Thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $75,000 after the society was forced out of its former headquarters inside the Bell Foundry building in 2016, the troupe is finally closing in on a new permanent home.
“There is really good news on the horizon,” Keating says. “We don’t have all the dots together yet, but we’re very much in the process of this big transformative moment where we can really put down roots.”