A Rock Opera: 80s Edition

MiG Ayesa as “Singer” in Choices: A Rock Opera (photo credit: Abigail Krupa)

“We are trying to create an event. That goes beyond just creating a piece of music,” says John Krupa about Choices: A Rock Opera, a production that he wrote and directed. The rock opera will see its world premiere at the Whippoorwill Hall Theater in North Castle Public Library on April 1-3.

“We’re doing our best so that every person who sees the production will take something away from it that they’ll remember, whether it’s lights, costumes or music. There’s something for everybody in this…I think performers have a responsibility to put on the best show they can, and give it their all at every performance.”

This is a topic Krupa knows well. About four years ago, his friend playfully suggested that he write a book about his life as a successful rock star in the ‘80s. After all, he had played with the likes of Meat Loaf, Paula Cole and even members of the Rolling Stones.

Krupa remembers saying: “I’m not an author. I don’t know how to do that. But as it turns out, I do know how to write music.”

He put his music degree to good use to write a semi-autobiographical story about a musician who is forced to choose between a rock and roll life on the road and a life of domesticity with the woman he loves.

Co-Producer and Business Manager George Drapeau adds: “There are opportunities out there, and you make a choice in life.” Choices acknowledges the consequences of these decisions. “These are the big issues of existence that we want people to take from this.”

What started as a personal “cathartic experience” for Krupa turned into something much larger: “It’s taken on a life of its own. The project is as much other peoples’ now as it is mine.” Collaborators include business partners, Emmy and Grammy Award winners and other accomplished talents. Lead actor MiG Ayesa starred as Stacee Jaxx on Broadway’s Rock of Ages.

The term “rock opera” isn’t an accident either. Krupa explains that the show has the structure of an opera. “We have an aria and recitativo; we have some dialog and then a song…So it’s a traditional opera in that way, but it has 100-percent rock and roll instrumentation.”

The music, which starts out as “straight-ahead hair band rock and roll, with loud guitars and wailing synthesizers” takes a turn in the second act when the mood becomes much more somber. The music ebbs and flows to match the story. The story, in turn, matches the music. 

Says Drapeau: There’s messaging there, but at the core of it is a really good time. You go to the theater and you’re entertained. It’s a rock concert, so you’re gonna be movin’ and groovin’ and stompin’.”

Aside from a single enjoyable performance, Krupa and his team hope that people will see the show as an experience. He says that the goal is not only to bring this rock opera to Broadway, but also beyond: “We want the secondary schools of Butte, Montana to be putting this on as their spring musical.”

A version of this article first appeared in the April 2022 issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

About Mary Alice Franklin

Mary Alice Franklin is ArtsWestchester’s Communications Manager and Editor of ArtsNews. She has a Bachelors in English and Masters in Publishing, and has been published in Paste Magazine, HuffPost, Art Zealous, Art Times, and more.

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