Poet Robert Frost once considered the world's demise by fire or ice, but Orlando musician Andy Matchett's vision isn't limited to such primal elements.
Describing "Key of E," his apocalyptic rock musical to debut Thursday, May 16 at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival in Loch Haven Park, Matchett name-drops the musical "Grease," rock bands Black Sabbath, Rage Against the Machine and the Beach Boys, then starts talking about puppets.
"When we get to the island, everything gets very schizo," says Matchett, a highly regarded member of Orlando's independent music scene known for his theatrically minded shows with his band, the Minks.
But, wait, an island?
Turns out that's where the production's main character copes with the prospect of the end of time — a task that's more challenging because of his five personalities.
The musical mindset is equally scattered.
"There's a Beach Boys/'Day In the Life' tune, a 1980s ballad, some really dramatic moments when it feels like a musical and then some summer loving stuff thrown in there," Matchett says. "It's all mashed up against some pretty heavy rock 'n' roll. So it's as schizophrenic musically as it is plotwise, which is exactly what we were going for."
Visually, the production's Armageddon set was created by Eric Kleinsteuber and Mike Lindsey of Acronym Studios, an Orlando design group known for its art installations. Puppets, stage effects and other "creatures" were crafted by Dog Powered Robot Labs, the Orlando team of Evan and Christie Miga that worked on concert effects for Matchett and the Minks.
"I don't think anyone's going to expect to see what they are going to see," Matchett says. "I don't know if anything this ambitious has been attempted, at least not at a show on a shoestring budget or at an hourlong play."
Matchett always has displayed a flair for the dramatic, augmenting his band's shows with confetti, wandering robots and parachutes held aloft by leaf blowers. In January, he moved closer to the theatrical realm by starring in "Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story," a musical at the IceHouse Theatre in Mount Dora.
He also was the musical director for "Hedwig & the Angry Inch" at Orlando's Majestic Theatre. That 2012 musical was presented by Dark Side of Saturn Productions, which also is producing "Key of E."
The "Key of E" idea surfaced in a barroom discussion between Matchett and Dark Side's Nick Baniewich:
"He said, 'Hey, you wanna do a rock musical about the end of the world for Fringe?''' Matchett says. "I just said, 'Yeah!' really fast."
None of his other experiences prepared him for "Key of E."
"It's by far the biggest project I've ever tackled," says Matchett, who plays the show's voyeuristic narrator in a cast that also includes Orlando actor Corey Volence as wanna-be rocker and main character Ethan. Volence also wrote the script from a story that Matchett developed with his wife, Michelle Minks.
Matchett's original music will be performed by a band that includes Minks member Abraham Couch, Brandon Kalber (of Travis Morrison's Hellfighters) and Randy Coole (of Anita Drink).
"A lot of creative people flocked to this," Matchett says. "It blows my mind how many people have gathered around this."
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'Key of E'
What: Apocalyptic rock musical directed by Orlando musician Andy Matchett at Orlando International Fringe Festival
When: 7:45 p.m. Thursday, May 16; 3 p.m. May 18; 7:45 p.m. May 19; 8 p.m. May 22; 11:45 a.m. May 25
Where: Green Venue, Loch Haven Park, Princeton Street at Mills Avenue, Orlando