Welcome to A Roadkill Opera

Banner text--If you see roadkill, think opera. A Roadkill Opera: The underground opera sensation

Music from 1804. Action set in 1988. A new opera (in English, in just 59 minutes)

Never before seen video from Roadkill!!! Live! is being released in honor of the 40th anniversary of Mad River Boat Trips. Boatmen from Mad River and Barker-Ewing Whitewater put this show on 3 nights a week over 8 weeks in the Silver Dollar Showroom at the Wort Hotel in Jackson, Wyoming, during the Yellowstone fires of 1988–and also hosted the area’s only open mic night once a week at Spirits of the West Saloon.

The signature sketch “Frozen Roadkills On A Stick,” written by Ed Bachtel, turned the Roadkill On A Stick Frozen Foods Theatre Company from a concept to an established show.

In this excerpt from the full show, Dave Rohrer puts his spin on Psycho Killer, then Ed Bachtel sells roadkill to Holly Danner and Stephan Parker. Then, as at every show, the grand finale was The Star-Spangled Banner as only this troupe could present it.

“Weird Ed” Bachtel, a guide for Barker-Ewing Whitewater, and Stephan “Killer” Parker, a guide for Mad River Boat Trips, co-produced this show under a legal partnership. For the 1988 season, they were joined by Dave Rohrer of Lifelink International/Croakies, and Holly Danner from KMTN-FM. Mad River’s Marv Wendl built the set for the 1988 show. The video for “Cod Piece Dining Room” is from the 1992 show at the Pink Garter Theatre, with Louise Gignoux replacing Holly Danner.

These recordings are from the final performances of the 1988 and 1992 comedy troupes. The hour leading up to their first performance (on Independence Day weekend 1988) is immortalized in the underground opera sensation A Roadkill Opera.

Photo of DJ Choupin standing under the marquee for the Wort Hotel advertising Roadkill Live Comedy 8 pm
DJ Choupin, our box office manager for the 1988 Roadkill Live!!! Comedy Review, cheered us on our opening night in July 1988

The song “Geo expresses the joy of performing. It also discusses the relative merits of the then-new line of cars from Chevrolet.

Photo of of the Roadkill On A Stick Frozen Foods Theatre Company ended with a standing ovation, as every show ended with Ed Bachtel playing the national anthem--by harmonica, through his nose
Every show in the history of the Roadkill On A Stick Frozen Foods Theatre Company ended with a standing ovation, as every show ended with Ed Bachtel playing the national anthem–by harmonica, through his nose
Photo of Parker guiding a raft full of paddlers
When you have a fresh crop of passengers on a paddles-only raft for just 90 minutes or so, you look for effective techniques that work fast. Stephan Alexander Parker guided for Mad River Boat Trips under the river name “Killer” from 1985 to 1992, off and on.
Publicity flier for the Open Mike Night at Spirits of the West
Open microphone every Wednesday at Spirits of the West Saloon. We spared no expense on publicity materials. Or spell check.

Thanks to all who came to Artomatic 2017 in Crystal City in March, April & May! A large banner showing highlights of the journey of A Roadkill Opera from Artomatic 2012 to the studio to the GRAMMYs to the world premiere performances in 2016 was stationed in the doorway to our gallery on the fifth floor (near the stage and bar).

You were invited to:

  1. Take a selfie on the set
  2. Lip-sync over the studio album
  3. Karaoke over the backing tracks
  4. Send a link to roadkillopera@icloud.com

Well, you can still do items 2 through 4. More of the hilarious lyric videos and karaoke videos are being posted as they are ready. Examples of each are below.

Photo of two women laughing while looking at A Roadkill Opera's set and sheet music
Two new fans catch a laugh perusing A Roadkill Opera‘s interactive display at Artomatic 2017 in Crystal City, Virginia
Photo of 2 women admiring CJ Choupin's photographs
Two new fans admiring DJ Choupin’s photos at Artomatic 2017 in Crystal City, Virginia

Though not nominated, the studio recording of A Roadkill Opera got the creative team invited to the GRAMMYs, which they attended in February 2015. Which led to the January 2016 world premiere, fully staged performances (with sold-out houses) at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint in Washington DC. Which led to performances by the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA) at the James Lee Community Theater in Falls Church, Virginia, in October 2016.

The Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia performs fully staged highlights from A Roadkill Opera on October 21, 2016, at the James Lee Community Theater in Falls Church, Virginia
Photo of Holly, Eddie, llama, and Marvin on the set of A Roadkill Opera
Holly (Laura Wehrmeyer) and Eddie (Alan Naylor) debate ways and whether it is necessary to punch up the humor of “In A Clearing” while Marvin (Christopher Dews) tends to the llama in A Roadkill Opera in its world premiere performances in January 2016 at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint in Washington DC

The 2016 runs took advantage of the 2016 release of A Roadkill Opera, Wanted: Vocals, the backing tracks from the studio recording of A Roadkill Opera released on July 4, 2013, on Amazon.com and subsequently on  CD Baby, AmazonMP3, and iTunes. It is now available worldwide on nearly all platforms. The release of the backing tracks fulfills the Roadkill Opera DIY promise made at the GRAMMYs in February 2015 to allow others to put on A Roadkill Opera with just 5 singers.

This comic opera with music in the style of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is recommended for fans of PDQ Bach, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Tom Lehrer, and The Rutles–but only if you like classical music with infectious hooks.

Photo of audience members looking at installation for the artist talk on A Roadkill Opera
First-time Artomatic attendees from Austria were drawn in December to the Artomatic 2016 artist talk on the path of Ferdinando Paer’s 1804 Leonora to the 2016 world premiere performances of Stephan AlexanderParker’s A Roadkill Opera

Thanks, too, to the many more who came see the Roadkill Opera installation on the 5th floor (some of whom bought merchandise) at

Artomatic 2016
When?
November 3 – December 9

Where?
12435 Park Potomac Avenue, Potomac, MD 20854

Photo of crowd standing around the video presentation of A Roadkill Opera
At the artist talk at Artomatic 2016, a crowd watches Larry Boggs (as Eddie) in the first videos from the October 21, 2016 performances of A Roadkill Opera by the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia. George Koch, founder emeritus of Artomatic, can be seen in the Artomatic office. The talk took place in front of the installation of art by Rambo!, whose Harrison Ford print was a door prize at the January 2016 world premiere performances of A Roadkill Opera at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint
Photo of crowd at Roadkill Opera installation at Artomatic 2016 in Potomac, Maryland, in December 2016
Artomatic 2016 drew new crowds in Montgomery County, Maryland, to see the Roadkill Opera installation
Flier describing artist talk at 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at Artomatic 2016 in Potomac, Maryland
Stephan Alexander Parker, who wrote the thing, shared how Artomatic was instrumental in bringing an opera about an improv comedy troupe in 1980s Wyoming from a stand-and-sing workshop at Artomatic 2012 to recording a studio album at Blue House Studios in Kensington, Maryland, to attending the GRAMMYs in 2015, to a world premiere production at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint in Washington, DC, in January 2016, and performance by the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA) at the James Lee Community Theater in Falls Church, Virginia, in October 2016.

Cool merchandise including album art, sheet music, and CDs of the studio recording that got them to the GRAMMYs are still available–the perfect holiday gifts for the person who has (almost) everything!

Photo of the Roadkill Opera Merchandise with special pricing
Special pricing on A Roadkill Opera‘s merchandise is available if you show up in person. Come to the Artist Talk at 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 4, at Artomatic 2016 in Potomac, Maryland. Or visit the installation there through Friday, December 9, 2016. Or add shipping charges.

Among the topics discussed was the 30-year quest to identify and acquire the score.

Poster with photos of Da Caruso, a New York Times / Framers review of Da Caruso, photos of the score in 1804 manuscript and 2011 print, covers of the 1978 Leonora album and the 2013 A Roadkill Opera CD, and the view from Parker's dorm in 1979.
Inspired by his cassette recording of Ferdinando Paer’s 1804 opera Leonora off a broadcast of Peter Maag’s 1978 studio recording on Chicago’s WFMT in the winter of 1979-1980, Stephan Alexander Parker created A Roadkill Opera. He brought the finished studio recording to Da Caruso, the Vienna, Austria CD shop that helped him identity the recording, in December 2013.

Cast Announced for Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia’s FREE Performances of A Roadkill Opera on Friday, October 21, 2016 in Falls Church, Virginia

Lobby card with head shots of the cast for A Roadkill Opera
The stellar cast for the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia’s production of A Roadkill Opera returns three players from the world premiere
The Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA) will present two FREE performances of A Roadkill Opera at 7:00 and 8:30 pm on Friday, October 21, 2016 at the James Lee Community Theater in Falls Church, Virginia
The Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA) will present two FREE performances of A Roadkill Opera at 7:00 and 8:30 pm on Friday, October 21, 2016 at the James Lee Community Theater in Falls Church, Virginia

Laura Wehrmeyer and David Timpane, who have been with A Roadkill Opera from the very first workshop at Artomatic 2012 in Crystal City, will return on Friday, October 21, 2016, for two FREE performances with the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA) at the James Lee Community Theater in Falls Church, Virginia (2855 Annandale Rd.).

Laura and David officially created their roles of Holly and Stephan, respectively, in the world premiere performances in January 2016 at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint in Washington DC. Laura and David also starred in the 2013 studio recording, with Jeffrey Dokken singing the role of Dave.

Also returning from the world premiere cast: Christopher Dews as Marvin. The returning cast members are joined by Kelly Curtin and Larry Boggs. These six dynamic entertainers will be accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia under the direction of Jeffrey Dokken.

Heard how it happened from the creative team? Music director, conductor, and director Jeffrey Dokken, together with Stephan Alexander Parker, who wrote the thing–were at Artomatic@Frederick on June 4, 2016 at 5 pm. Parker was at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 21, 2016.

Photo of Marvin handing a roadkill on a stick to Stephan as Dave looks on
Stage manager Marvin (Christopher Dews) presents a frozen roadkill on a stick to Stephan (David Timpane) while Dave (Alex Miletich IV) looks on with amusement in A Roadkill Opera at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint in Washington DC in January 2016

The opera is new: the story is set in 1988 in the hour before the first professional gig for a comedy improv troupe in Jackson Hole—the Roadkill On A Stick Frozen Foods Theatre Company. The music is classical–from the 1804 Leonora by Ferdinando Paer, one of Beethoven’s direct competitors.

It was sold out houses for the Saturday performances of A Roadkill Opera on January 9, 2016, at the Mead Theatre Lab At Flashpoint in Washington DC. The houses were pretty good as well on the previous night of this limited run of the hilarious new opera about the hour before the first professional gig for a sketch comedy troupe in 1980s Wyoming.

Parker & Dokken spoke about the road from Artomatic 2012 to the February 2015 GRAMMYs at Artomatic 2015 on Friday, October 30, and on Saturday, December 12. They played the 2013 studio album and previewed the January 8-9, 2016, Washington DC premiere of fully staged performances of A Roadkill Opera.

To see how far the show has come, check out the video of the “stand and sing” workshop at Artomatic 2012 at http://youtu.be/g0K6Il7m1W4.

A Roadkill Opera tells the story of the hour before the first professional gig for a bunch of amateur improv sketch comedians in 1980s Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Here in all its glory is a clip showing the classic sketch “Cod Piece Dining Room” from the 1992 “once-in-a-(sick) lifetime comedy experience.” Doug Henderson, who was starring in the title role of Harvey in the production then running on the Pink Garter Theatre’s stage, proved to be an energetic announcer. Dave Rohrer was back providing live musical accompaniment, Ed Bachtel and Stephan Alexander Parker were onstage in their final public performance under their legal partnership (dissolved shortly thereafter), and the role originated by Holly Danner in the 1988 run was played in the 1992 show by Louise Gignoux.

This clip was recorded live at the 1992 Roadkill!!! Greatest Hits! show on Friday the 13th at the Pink Garter Theatre in Jackson, Wyoming. This clip has mild profanity. The  Jackson Hole Community Theatre production of Harvey, whose set we borrowed for our comedy revue, had played earlier that evening. Our midnight madness show started at 11 pm so we could use the already-heated theatre. The props will be recognizable to audiences that attend A Roadkill Opera.

Brown Paper Tickets was the place to go for the January 8-9, 2016, tickets for A Roadkill Opera – world premiere performances. Shows were at 630 and 830 pm each night at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint in Washington, DC.

24 inch by 40 inch banner with quotes from reviews of A Roadkill Opera and Ferdinando Paer's Leonora
A Roadkill Opera is now available on most online music platforms.
Photo showing If You See Roadkill, Think Opera and A Roadkill Opera are featured prominently in the store's display of local authors.
Gifts of The Earth is a long-time fixture of the community in Jackson, Wyoming. If You See Roadkill, Think Opera and A Roadkill Opera are featured prominently in the store’s display of local authors in this photo taken in July 2014.

After appearing at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, the Town Courier’s Pam Schipper wrote in the June 18, 2014 edition “Parker’s ‘A Roadkill Opera’ Is Pure Punk.” Check it out at http://towncourier.com/parkers-a-roadkill-opera-is-pure-punk/. Or come see us at the 2015 Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 16. We will be featuring A Roadkill Opera DIY, as announced at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.

Photo showing ordering pages for iTunes, CDS Baby, and Amazon
A Roadkill Opera is available now on iTunes (downloads), CD Baby (downloads and CDs), and Amazon (downloads, CDs, and books of sheet music). Amazon also carries Parker’s If You See Roadkill, Think Opera.

The book If You See Roadkill, Think Opera  was released on February 2, 2013–Groundhog Day. It was the first of 7 Roadkill Opera paperbacks published in 2013; the other 6 provide sheet music and lyrics for anyone wanting to follow along, play along, practice, or perform A Roadkill Opera. You will really stand out at opera auditions with these lyrics! All seven paperbacks are available worldwide through your local bookseller and online, including Amazon.comCreateSpace, and Barnes & Noble; most popular are the book If You See Roadkill, Think Opera and A Roadkill Opera: Piano/Vocal on Amazon.com. More than 1,600 units have shipped, about evenly divided between books and albums. Music reviews are shown on the blog.

Photo of a backstage view of the workshop concert performance of A Roadkill Opera at Artomatic 2012 in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia
A backstage view of the workshop concert performance of A Roadkill Opera at Artomatic 2012 in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia

If You See Roadkill, Think Opera, Parker’s book of one-acts and short stories (including the libretto for A Roadkill Opera), is available on Kindle.  See the 4 and 5 star reviews.

The CD, piano/vocal score, and sheet music for string instruments for A Roadkill Opera are also available locally in Gaithersburg, Maryland, at Lashof Violins; all music is available through Groth Music in Minnesota; books are also available in Jackson, Wyoming at the Valley Bookstore and at Gifts of the Earth. You can also see the books at the Library of Congress (see the legally required copies being accepted by the Library of Congress in the photo below).

Photo of Library of Congress intake of piano/vocal score and all parts for A Roadkill Opera (left) as well as If You See Roadkill, Think Opera
Library of Congress intake of piano/vocal score and all parts for A Roadkill Opera (left) as well as If You See Roadkill, Think Opera

Information on the singers and musicians is at www.roadkillopera.com.

photo of Laura Wehrmeyer (Holly)
Laura Wehrmeyer (Holly)

A Roadkill Opera tells the story of the hour before the lights go up on opening night for a comedy improv troupe in Jackson Hole, Wyoming—the Roadkill On A Stick Frozen Foods Theatre Company. Based (loosely) on a true story from a fast-developing tourist town, this original English libretto by Parker is set to music by Ferdinando Paer (Napoleon’s maître de chapelle).

Photo of Cod Piece Dining Room comedy sketch, 1988, with Holly Danner and Ed Bachtel on a singles cruise
Cod Piece Dining Room comedy sketch, 1988, with Holly Danner and Ed Bachtel on a singles cruise

The action takes place on Independence Day weekend in 1988—exactly 25 years prior to the CD release.

photo of cover of A Roadkill Opera CD

In June 2012 A Roadkill Opera was workshopped in Crystal City, Virginia, by Jeffrey Dokken at Artomatic, the Washington area’s largest free creative arts event. Dokken is best known as music director and conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA). Maestro Dokken reassembled most of the workshop’s chamber orchestra and singers over the next year for a series of recording sessions in Maryland.

Photo of the chamber orchestra workshopping A Roadkill Opera at Artomatic 2012 in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia, on June 7
The chamber orchestra and cast at the final rehearsal for the workshop concert for  A Roadkill Opera at Artomatic 2012 in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia

The cast for the studio recording of A Roadkill Opera includes Laura Wehrmeyer (Holly), soprano; Andrew Webster (Eddie), baritone; David Timpane (Stephan), bass; Krista Monique McClellan (Debby), soprano; and Jeffrey Dokken (Dave), tenor.

Photo of Jeffrey Dokken conducts the chamber orchestra while recording engineer Jeff Gruber adjusts microphones.
Jeffrey Dokken conducts the chamber orchestra while audio engineer Jeff Gruber adjusts microphones. Orchestral tracks were recorded live and simultaneously for the most part.

The orchestra for the studio recording of A Roadkill Opera includes Martine Micozzi, flute; Jeannine Altavilla, clarinet; Sarah Robinson, bassoon; Michael Thompson, trumpet; Jeffrey Dokken, timpani; Frank Peracchia, violin I; Ian Ross, violin II; Val Rauch, viola; Kathy Augustine and Natalie Spehar, cello; and Stephan Alexander Parker on hammer, 2×4, and cymbal.

A Roadkill Opera was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Blue House Productions by Audio Engineer Jeff Gruber. You can check it out on YouTube.

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