“STARING INTO NOTHING,” a new musical/rock opera set to debut Friday, October 7 at the El Portal Theater in Los Angeles
After releasing two albums under the name “look into nothing“, the collaborative songwriting partnership between Kurt Barabas and Steve Rogers blossomed into a live stage production featuring all new music.
‘Staring Into Nothing’, the new musical/rock opera, explores the impact of mass media, social media and the digital information age on the quality of our lives. It poses and attempts to answer the philosopher’s age-old question: “What is good and what is not?”
Set to debut Friday, October 7 at the El Portal Theater in the NoHo neighborhood of Los Angeles, the full-scale production will kick off with three shows: Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 8 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 9. at 2 p.m. Tickets are available through the theater website for $55 starting Thursday, September 1.
The show is led by Broadway performer, director, choreographer Jeffrey Polk with acclaimed musician Denny Fongheiser serving as producer, musical director, drums and percussion. Additional casting and production details will be revealed in the coming weeks. Listen to a sample of the music here.
The idea of writing a musical/rock opera that explores the philosophical concept of “quality” began with one of Steve’s favorite books: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. It is subtitled “An Inquiry into Values” and explores the relationship between people, technology and quality. Written in 1974, it could not have envisioned the technology we live with today, but the principles are the same.
Steve wanted to explore these same relationships in the modern world and mentions that over the course of writing “other books began to influence and enhance my thinking about ‘what’s good and what’s not’.” in a world of cellphones, tablets, emails and 24-hour news cycles; especially Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Neil Postman’s Technopoly.
For the soundtrack recording, Steve and Kurt wanted to record in a more organic way than in the past. This meant entering the great hall of East-West Studios in Hollywood and recording the backing tracks live. To do this, Kurt (on bass) and Steve (on vocals and piano) had to complete the group. For this, they called on Bruce Watson to handle guitars of all kinds and Denny Fongheiser on drums and percussion. Bruce – Foreigner’s lead guitarist – showed up to the sessions with an army of guitars and amps and a boatload of enthusiasm. Denny spent many years as a drummer for Heart and many other artists including Roger Waters, John Paul Jones, Bruce Cockburn, Al Stewart, Peter Frampton and Tracy Chapman. Denny was also the theme song drummer for the hit TV show “Friends”. When it came time to add background vocals, Fongheiser said, “When I first thought about doing this record, I heard Kipp and Mark Lennon from the band Venice. They are a staple of the Los Angeles music and studio scene and come from a long line of family musicians, producers and singers. During my first face-to-face meeting with Steve and Kurt (who is a big fan of the band), I mentioned the possibility of using them. They were available and they delivered big!