8. The Protomen – Discography
The Protomen are what happens when the rock opera goes viral: Nine college students record a song about the Megaman videogames on the night before their final project is due, and that one recording spirals into a touring independent rock opera with a ferocious Internet fanbase. Only the bold embark on a career-spanning rock opera, but the Protomen pull it off, thanks in no small part to their knack for wringing serious emotion out of shallow pop culture. Their take on the Megaman franchise as half family drama, half dystopia. The tag line writes itself: It's Les Miserables with robots. As for the music, the Protomen mix country, vintage synths, and noise rock into their sound. And Queen. Lots of Queen.
The band's debut sports more rough edges while the second act presents a much slicker '80s-throwback sound. The tonal shift actually fits the emotional shift from act one's gritty determination to act two's more optimistic finale. There is no third act yet, but if it ever is released, one could actually see this adaption happening. The Protomen already have the backing of Capcom (the company that owns the Megaman franchise), and such a production would come readymade with a fanbase. The Protomen bring gamers to rock shows, they could do the same for theaters.
The world has come a long way since the Who released Tommy in 1969. Tomorrow night, a stage adaptation of the Flaming Lips’ seminal 2002 rock opera Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots will premiere at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse. It’s not Broadway, but it is an indicator that the era of the rock opera could make a comeback. And this is the perfect time for a revival of the style.
The musical industry is hungry for material, but if Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark was any indication, musicals cannot draw from the same material movies do. Consider, on the other had, how well Rock Of Ages did, even if its filmic adaptation fumbled — there is an appetite for familiar music onstage.
Fortunately for Broadway, the music industry has produced a wealth of legitimately good rock operas (and hip-hoperas), most of which remain unadapted for the stage. And no, most of them are not what you would call “classic rock,” although some are. The relative self-indulgence of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Rush’s 2112 has ebbed, for the most part, in favor of coherent stories, and characters that develop with the plot.
Music and theater at their best stir something in an audience. There’s a swell of feeling produced in a live setting that can’t be replicated anyplace else. Here are the 10 rock operas most urgently in need of a stage adaptation, with some ideas for how such a production might be carried out. Make your case for My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade in the comments.