Deep Love @ The Rose Wagner 10.30

Posted October 31, 2012 in

Photo: David Epps

I'm usually not the kind of person who enjoys Halloween. You can call me a Halloween-Scrooge, as I bah-humbug everyone in costume and stick my nose up at carved pumpkins. I could definitely go for some gruesome gore, witchcraft, or horror and other fear-fueled nonsense anytime, but I'm really not interested in scarecrows or zombies. What initially sold me on the performance of Deep Love was the promise that this show would be an unconventional Halloween experience. With the recommendation to wear funeral attire, I felt it appropriate to give some holiday cheer a go, and decided to attend this rock opera based around a cemetery theme. Before the entertainment began, producers Ryan Hayes and Garrett Sherwood started with a brief disclaimer for the audience, informing us to react to the performance as you would a rock concert. Since most of us probably did not know what to expect from the show, this proved to be efficient in getting the crowd to appropriately respond with cheers, whoops and whistles throughout the evening. 


I’ve never been to a rock opera before, and the likes of Deep Love is something that I'd really dig to see more. What the cast did was combine elements of a rock concert with a theatrical plot, while maintaining a classical structure of an opera. The line gets blurred between it feeling more like a concert versus feeling like an opera, and the cast pretty delicately and skillfully balances elements of both. Each song had aspects of a slew of genres, including blues, jazz, classic rock, folk and, of course, opera. I've been to a lot of folk shows before where I felt like the concert was super cheesy and would be more appropriate as a play, so it was pretty cool to see someone go with that idea and fully embrace the pairing of the two mediums. I'd way rather sit through a narrative over a band doing some awkward performance over a hesitant crowd. To me, it felt like they were embracing the cliché of that kind of a folk show with arms wide open, and because of this unabashed acceptance of stereotypical and predictable plots, instead of being trite, the program had a hint of irony. 
Whether this irony was intended or not—I am not entirely sure—but the plot was pretty corny. Here's the gist (*spoiler alert*): Constance, the leading lady, is mourning the recent departure of her love, Old Bones, who vows to watch over and protect her from the grave. Then some hunk named Friedrich Cat calls her, they fall in love, and Constance, all starry eyed, forgets about Old Bones. Old Bones gets pissed, as well as Friedrich's ex, Florence, who knows his shady past. The Second Act is all about the conflicting feelings Constance feels as her dead ex threatens her and Friedrich for breaking their vows, eventually leading Friedrich to suicide. As Constance battles guilt and vengeance from Florence, she eventually kills her and then buries herself. 
Predictable as the ending was, and how annoying as the heroine's inner discord felt throughout the narrative notwithstanding, the cast was chock-full of talent. The folks successfully combined the recitatives with an aria sung by all of the four main characters, all who equally belted out their money notes. That with the coupling of the mini-orchestra/large-band made for a standard operatic experience (in a not-so-standard way, of course). My favorite part was definitely the inclusion of the saxophone, smoothly performed by Shaun Scrivner, which I wish I could've seen more of! I'd definitely be interested in seeing what else these two produce in the future, especially with the hopes that they direct a more interesting, perhaps less predictable narrative.
Photo: David Epps Photo: David Epps Photo: David Epps Photo: David Epps Photo: David Epps