Avant guarded

Danny Feedback’s Crack Rock Opera comes to freakish fruition

Avant guarded
Photos by Rob Bartlett

Danny Feedback’s Crack Rock Opera

8:45 p.m. Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16
Theatre Downtown,
2113 N. Orange Ave.

Danny Feedback does not want to reveal his surname. For a guy who is about to debut a big musical stage production that involves portraying his mother in an Oedipal light, it’s understandable. And since he’s planning on setting her likeness adrift onstage amid a drugged-up landscape populated by sexy bad cops, trannies and mentally challenged monsters, his caginess is merciful.

For years, the Orlando musician’s persona has been synonymous with vulgarity and shock performance, his blistering concerts reliable for their absurdity, nudity and material destruction. But the humorist provocateur is now looking beyond the traditional rock show. And his latest grand production, Danny Feedback’s Crack Rock Opera, is far different from anything he’s ever done.

Rather than a hit-and-run rock & roll set, this theatrical piece has been years in development and is considerable in scope for such a DIY affair, involving sets, props, lasers, fog machines and costumes. In addition to the live music, the cast – comprised of Feedback himself and notable local musicians Evan Shafran, Jim Ivy and Jeff Nowlin – also handles the entirety of the acting. “We never really grew up and [were] practiced in theater,” Feedback says. “None of us are really theater kids. We’re more [like] musicians sort of learning our way.”

But before one tucks their silk hanky or contemplates evening wear, it’s important to keep in mind that this theater experience is, after all, the brainchild of Danny Feedback. “It’s obviously more of a comedy than anything,” he says. “But there’s a little bit of a very twisted love story in there. There’s a little bit of cheating in there, a little bit of soap opera action. Not too much drama. I don’t think there’ll be any tears shed during this one.” With a cast of characters that includes himself (“the pompous prima donna”), Mommy Feedback (“That’s where the twisted relationship is”), Ronnie the Retarded Werewolf (“There’s a love triangle”), Officer Adolph Travolli (“At least the guy in Reno 911 is a little guy”), Tranly Man (“a transsexual superhero”) and a narrator named Suck Me, emotional catharsis does seem unlikely.

The idea for Crack Rock Opera came about back in 2008 when Feedback saw L’Ange Avec Les Fleurs at Winter Garden’s Garden Theatre. The French play – and particularly its execution and format involving musician-actors – moved him enough to go back and see it again the very next night. He wrote the general idea for Crack Rock Opera over the next few days. At that point, the rock band iteration of Danny Feedback was already intermittent and was being phased out due to the relocation of the group’s bassist. This particular bolt of inspiration came along at just the right time to offer a fresh avenue for the Danny Feedback brand.

With the editorial help of friend and Valencia College screenwriting professor Carol Chiodini, he kept refining the musical during the next couple of years until finally assembling a cast last September to provide input on the script and work out the mechanics.

“There was a basic [outline] – seven or eight pages,” Feedback says. “But it has grown from that. There’s interjections, and [the players] have opened up the characters and gotten crazier with it. Luckily, I found the right people to do it.”

A production of this scale, however, took more than a small gang of wild creatives. And since artists and practicality seldom overlap, Bread & Circuses LLC, an arts and music group owned by Room Full of Strangers’ Michael Kniseley, stepped in to add a boost of profile, presentational legitimacy and aspiration to the affair. With Kniseley’s logistical and promotional help, the show will make its proper debut with a two-night stand at Theatre Downtown and has now grown to include support sets from Room Full of Strangers and Kinky Catawampus, as well as comedian Sal Minelli. Finally, Bread & Circuses has tapped Broken Machine Films, an Orlando-based film crew often seen recording at area concerts, to document the show in the hopes of selling the concept to other markets.

With all the camp and irreverence Crack Rock Opera promises, they had better be progressive markets. “It’s a little crazy, like an acid trip, obviously,” Feedback says. “It’s a little bit out there.”

When asked if his real mother will be in attendance, he replies with a hushed but resolute, “No.” In his attempt to explain, all he can manage is a stammer. “No, no, I can’t … this cannot … no, no. She’s very Catholic.”

Despite all the wild promotional stunts Danny Feedback is capable of hatching, such a halting response from a man so accustomed to public immodesty is perhaps the most provocative omen of all for Crack Rock Opera.