The Comic Roach: A Roadhouse Picture Show (2009)
Instrumentation: singer-actor (soprano), 3 reeds, trumpet, percussion, piano
Cabaret song 1: "Picking Peaches"
Performers: Tracy Lynn Olivera, soprano and The Snark Ensemble
I conceived The Comic Roach: A Roadhouse Picture Show (also known as "Mr. Roach's Roadhouse") in 2009 for the Capital Fringe Festival in DC. The conception and execution of this film-cabaret grew from two sources: my desire to create an integrated theatrical performance which included silent film, acting, singing, and live music, and my working association as co-founder of the Snark Ensemble, an instrumental group dedicated to the creation and performance of live music for silent film.
In creating this show, I wanted to lend a meta-theatrical element to the performance by placing the complete show in the context of a 1920's roadhouse in Culver City, California. The audience members are the patrons of the roadhouse; the soprano, named "Bella Gardon," is the chanteuse-emcee, and the Snark Ensemble is the "house band."
This film-cabaret, then, screened silent films with intervening songs and banter as part of the overall show. I created the scenario, character of Bell, and wrote the script for the show. The order of presentation of the film-cabaret is:
Pre-show music (on a recurrent bass line, music by Simpson with improvised contributions by the ensemble)
Overture (Music by Simpson)
Film 1 (Stolen Goods - Charley Chase, 1924, music by Snark Ensemble composer Phil Carluzzo)
Cabaret song 1 "Picking Peaches" (Music and lyrics by Simpson), Tracy Olivera, the Snark Ensemble
Film 2 (Boobs in the Wood - Harry Langdon, 1925, music by Snark Ensemble composer Maurice Saylor)
Cabaret song 2 "Under the Curse" (Music by Saylor), Tracy Olivera, Andrew Simpson, pno
Film 3 (Too Many Mammas - Charley Chase, 1924, music by Simpson)
Exit March (Music by Simpson, from "Peanuts and Bullets," silent film score)