by Laura Baughman
Some Forest Hills neighbors may have wondered over recent years about the muffled noises emanating from a house on Linnean near 30th Street.
No, it wasn’t a college student playing the stereo too loud. It was long-time (since 1994!) Forest Hills resident Mark Baughman working on a rock opera. And the result, 99: A Rock Opera, will move from the studio to the stage this Sunday, January 31st at Villain and Saint in Bethesda at 4 p.m.
That’s the Sunday between the playoffs and the Super Bowl, in case you wondered.
The opera tells a story about Pete, a middle-aged engineer who works for the Cleveland, Ohio Department of Environment. Pete must manage a group of protesters (the “99ers”) who have taken over a city park. Pete identifies with the 99ers and wants to do what he can to help them achieve their mission. But some of the 99ers, including a leader who turns out to be a college “flame,” accuse Pete of being a sell-out, and Pete wonders if that might not be true.
Trouble comes when an opportunist tries to capitalize on the protests, and a long-time park “resident” gets caught in the cross-fire. The story explores the difficulties well-meaning people have in working out their differences, or even coexisting, because they feel compelled to join one side or another and fight for people and institutions that they barely know.
The story is set to rock music and is performed by Mark and his Ad Hoc Rock Opera Company, a six-piece group of veteran virtuoso musicians. They premiered the work to enthusiastic audiences at the Black Cat in DC and Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia.
Three great reasons to come see it this Sunday: It will be fun, there’s no football, and you’ll still be working off Snowmaggedon cabin fever!