A massive T-Rex plays a massive saxophone at the beginning of "Chronoshred: The Adventures of Stardust Lazerdong," conceived by Philip Doccolo (who co-directs with Danielle Robinette) and a large team of writers and librettists. This puppeteered beast presumably took weeks to construct, but it only graces the stage for a few minutes and serves no critical purpose to the story. But what is a Baltimore Rock Opera Society production without unnecessary, nonsensical excess? At the very least, it's the BROS' way of saying buckle up, you're about to see some shit.
The high bar for spectacle set by the dinosaur—and the grand entrance by the time-traveling rock-star title character, light show, and special guest appearance (again, not really necessary) from the Virgin Mary (Lazerdong shrieks, "You know who this is?/ It's motherfucking Mary, Mother of Christ/ You see how pregnant she is?/ My sexy behavior sired your savior")—is met, if not exceeded, multiple times during the next three hours. Matt Beale and Allison Hicks' phenomenal costume design, from Lazerdong's Lite-Brite shoulder pads and totally unsubtle cod piece to the whopping sculptural pieces worn and maneuvered by his bandmates, the rock-planet rock-bass player Rocky (C-Mo Molloy) and self-explanatory Squiddrummer (Kathy Carson in the front and Julia Pickens Sine in the back—eight tentacles require an extra set of limbs), are worthy of a Lady Gaga stage.
Using his Chronoriff, Lazerdong and his posse travel through space and time, jumping from galaxy to galaxy to escape the haterz. Fake radio commercial breaks and video elements interrupt set changes. Trying to maintain a grasp on this hair-metal space myth is like trying to follow a Keith Richards monologue—fairly indiscernible, but still enthralling to watch unfold.
Drawing from divine rock-god inspiration and speaking through a drugged-up English and occasionally Australian accent, Greg Bowen charges Lazerdong with enough energy to power a laser guitar. Deeply entrenched in his narcissism and held back only by his secret sexual insecurities, Lazerdong strives to be his own idol, rejecting his bandmates, friends, superfans, and the monolithic corporate superpower controlling everyone and everything else around him. Biznizcorp produces basically everything ("If it exists, it's probably ours") including Lazerdong's beloved Macho Nachos ("the only snack that punches you in the mouth balls with Biznizcorp's patented Tex-Mexual re-assignment conditioning that will drop-kick your gender fluidity to the curb"), and seeks to destroy Lazerdong under the direction of its Chief Executive Overlord Nebulous (Eric Poch), a helmeted villain reminiscent of "SpongeBob SquarePants'" Plankton. Nebulous enlists the help of record label mogul Agent Mercury (Melissa LaMartina) as well as longtime Lazerdong disciple and rock-star wannabe Helios Novalux (Elias Mays Schutzman), who succumbs to Biznizcorp when offered the chance to out-rock his hero.
Everyone in the large cast matches Bowen's unrestrained stage presence—with the exception of Harrison Ford, the most Zen (or blissed out on Xanax) dog to ever be surrounded by loud music and flashing lights. Ford is the stoic face of Lazerdong's manager, Dog Manager (who mainly just supplies bathtub-sized trays of nachos), supplemented by the voice and movement of Bobby Harris, hidden within the Manager's dog-eared robot suit.
A "Spinal Tap" meets "Kung Fury" maximalist odyssey, "Chronoshred" is mostly dick jokes, lasers, guitars, a really cool dog, and every kind of pun imaginable. The show has no standout musical numbers (except maybe 'The Coxxukulent Experience - I Love Bein' Your Dick, Man' but that's mostly thanks to the lyrics), and the plot is barely perceptible. But it all works, because everything is set to 11.
"Chronoshred: The Adventures of Stardust Lazerdong" runs through Feb. 7 at 1727 N. Charles St. For more information, visit baltimorerockopera.org.