October 1, 2023


masterpiece of human

Hard Work Having Fun: Baltimore Rock Opera Society


What defines the quintessential sound of a rock opera? 

Cynthia Schatoff, who goes by Darmock (band director): Rock opera can’t be narrowed down to any one sound or genre. Each show has a different story and style. From rock ballads to funk, pop, metal, and more. What is at the core of all of the music are memorable tunes that support the story of the show.

Are there specific instruments or musical techniques that are unique to rock opera?

Darmock: There have been a number of different types of instruments used in rock opera performances, but none unique to rock opera. Often there are drums, guitars, bass, and keyboard. Sometimes there are other instruments such as aerophone, cello, saxophone and more depending on the production.

Since the score is written by a variety of composers, what do you do as the band director to create cohesion throughout the musical numbers?

Darmock: The composers should be given credit for working with one another and using each other’s works when building songs to create cohesion. Once the band had the compositions we worked together to balance our parts and make adjustments rhythmically or dynamically where needed.


How long have you been working on BROS productions? 

AG Sherman (costume designer): Like a lot of us, I’ve been doing Baltimore DIY stuff for decades. I volunteered with BROS for the first time on the second run of their first show, Gründlehämmer. I went off to do other stuff for a while and came back right before the pandemic, whomp whomp. Corona forced us all to focus. Since then, I worked on some puppet stuff, a few sculptural masks, and ran Costumes for Glitterus

Can you discuss how closely you work with lighting, set design, and props in developing the costumes?

AG Sherman: BROS is all about collaboration and the power of teaming up. This time, Costumes worked most closely with Props (genius Michael Bull also makes our weapons and armor), the Dragon Team (too numerous to list but led by Sam Hanson, who arrived ready to breathe fire and kick-ass), and the incomparable Creatures Krackens, Justin Sabe and Tracey Townsend. Tracey and I designed the sleaze-spider, Zeth, together for Isiah Dorsey’s stellar performance. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing [Creatures Designer] Justin Sabe for over 15 years. He remains consistently full of delightful surprises. 

Because of the elemental nature of the show, early on I pitched to Aran Keating, and the show creator, Sarah Burns Gilchrist, that the costumes should be based on the Tarot. They and director Amanda Rife allowed me the freedom to color the Arcana with my own ‘70s-tinged style, resulting in an anachronistic underground heavy-metal look that hopefully feels timely and fits the subject matter. Lighting guru Chris Allen and the Sets Team, led by Max Sobolik and Kate Smith-Morse, designed stuff that just gelled organically. Kate and I talked about picking the perfect color and detail for specific vignettes, but we were definitely on a similar wavelength from the start.



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