Dr. Frockrocket's Vivifying Menagerie and Medicine Show
Sat June 23, 7:30 pm
While classical,jazz, and electronic-based music are often removed from their traditional context with performance or on film scores, rock music rarely transcends its formula of stage, musicians, and audience. The rock opera is certainly an exception, but how many of those can you name? I can think of four: Tommy, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, and last summer's Olympian triumph, The Transfused.
Nomy Lamm, radical visionary and Transfused co-writer, seems determined to pair up performance and theater with cutting-edge, creepy metal rock and theater-oriented rock scoring. Pairing up with San Francisco filmmaker/Sister Spit collaborator Tara Jepsen, Lamm started Dr. Frockrocket's Vivifying (Re-Animatronic) Menagerie and Medicine Show. About the performance, The Need's Rachel Carns, who's playing organ in the house band, says, "In brief, Dr. Frockrocket has come up with an elixir that transforms the animals in his care into mythological creatures. The narrative thread follows the course of Dr. F's metamorphosis as he faces the true mystery of his wayward Menagerie, their portentous angles and unbridled acts, and above all, himself--from garrulous showman to tender soliloquist to naked worm and out the other side."
Dr. Frockrocket began as a performance art project with a number of thematically-related pieces, and expanded into an extravaganza of disciplines and talents. Many of the ladies involved are veterans of The Transfused, including feminist author Inga Muscio, comic and queer promoter Betty Ruption, dancer Beth Stinson, performer/designer Spider, Ibobuki's Betsy Kwo, Carns, and Hazel/Team Dresch's Jody Bleyle. Considering their diversity and collective penchant for "actually doing shit," as the phrase goes, Dr. Frockrocket promises to be spectacular.
The music, created by Carns, Kwo (guitar), Ruption (drums), and possibly The Intima's Nora on violin, acts as a backdrop for the performances, "sculpt[ing] a moving set for Dr. F and the individual artists involved. In my mind, it's less like musical theater than theatrical music," says Carns. "We've come up with a score that ranges from ye olde soft-shell oom-pah to baroque contrapunto to deep-throated blues to ambling waltz to good old-fashioned call and response."
With such independent, creative contemporaries--people who are more commonly associated with DIY punk rock and all its amenities--making the connection between rock music and performance (and all kinds of art in general), it's possible that we're at the cusp of a sort of vaudeville renaissance. If that is true, the creators of Dr. Frockrocket's are certainly its vanguard.