The “Greatest Rock’N’Roll Novel Ever Written” Rock Bottom Becomes a New Rock Musical

Share Article

Two novels brought to life on stage: Landless presents the original rock musical Rock Bottom A Rock Opus based on the novel by Michael Shilling, and G. Xavier Robillard's Captain Freedom at Capital Fringe Festival

Rock Bottom

It's a show about musicians, performed BY musicians.

The Landless Theatre Company presents the original rock musical Rock Bottom A Rock Opus (based on the novel by Michael Shilling) at District of Columbia Arts Center from July 15-August 7. The musical is a collaboration between Michael Shilling, Landless Artistic Director Andrew Lloyd Baughman and award-winning songwriter/musician Talia Segal. The production is directed by Melissa Baughman (Diamond Dead, 2008 Best Musical Pick of the Capital Fringe).

“Rock Bottom A Rock Opus” runs July 15 - August 7 at DCAC, with performances Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30 PM.

Rock Bottom is the story of the final day in the life of a rock band as it crashes and burns. The Blood Orphans were supposed to be the next big thing in rock, but today they find themselves washed up in Amsterdam, where bands go to die: a coke-fueled female manager, a sex addict drummer with a dark secret, a disgruntled bass player with a skin condition, a mistreated guitarist, and a born-again Buddhist frontman. It’s a darkly comic tour of frustration, danger, excitement, and just possibly, redemption.

Seattle based novelist Michael Shilling teaches at Cornish College of the Arts, and has extensive life experience as a rock musician. Rock Bottom was published in 2009 by Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company, and has earned rave reviews, including the title “best rock’n’roll novel ever written” by Houston Press.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think Rock Bottom would be musicalized, but now, in retrospect, it makes perfect sense,” said Shilling. “The book's characters, cranky as they can be, are just born drama queens... So taking the story to this new medium feels very right.” 

Landless Artistic Director Andrew Lloyd Baughman discovered the book while perusing a local bookstore for material in 2009. His past rock musical creations include the award-winning DIAMOND DEAD (with Brian Cooper and Emmy-winning composer Richard Hartley) and Washington Post Editor’s Pick CARRIE POTTER AT THE NEW MOON PROM (with punk musician-composer Jen Tonon). His musical GLEEAM will debut at this August’s NYC International Fringe Festival.

“It’s my Quixotic quest to forge the rock musical that actually works,” said Baughman. “We’ve had success with camp, but genuine rock is so personal... it’s tough to filter through the voice of musical theatre characters, but the characters in Michael’s novel were so honest and compelling. I felt I have known them all in my own band experiences. This material has true rock potential.”

While Baughman collaborated with Shilling on writing a script that is faithful to the novel, he enlisted the support of award-winning songwriter-musician Talia Segal to write some of the music. Segal is a New York based musician currently working on her third album. She has been a finalist for the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, and several others. Her songs have garnered licensing contracts with MTV, Oxygen Network, Indesit, and E! Television.

Segal performs her own music in the production, along with Baughman and a cast of musician-actors who infuse the production with legitimate rock musicianship.

“Nobody ‘randomly bursts into song’ in Rock Bottom,” adds Segal. “All the characters that sing in Rock Bottom are actual "singers", and play their own instruments. It's a show about musicians, performed BY musicians.” 

Segal’s song “Firefly” from Rock Bottom will be included on her upcoming album. A single mp3 will be available for download from Landless in the coming weeks to promote the production.

The production is directed by Andrew’s wife and Landless creative partner Melissa Baughman (DIAMOND DEAD, PRESIDENT HARDING IS A ROCK STAR), and stars Vaughn Irving (Imagination Stage’s Wind in the Willows and Mulan) and Judith Baicich (Cherry Red Productions). Supporting cast member/musicians include Thomas Jackson, Maia Henkin, Laura L. Fontaine and theatre newcomer Theodore Vossler (Skylines, The Dead Deads).

“Rock Bottom is a pure rock show,” said director Melissa Baughman. “It’s loaded with dark situations, dark comedy, and dirty rock. Don’t come expecting Oklahoma.” The production includes nudity, explicit language and intense graphic sexual situations. Not recommended for audiences under 18.

Shilling advises that audiences who attend the first performances of his Rock Opus will experience “the soul of Blake. The sauciness of Byron. The eloquence of Marlowe. And, of course, the hammer of the gods.”

Rock Bottom A Rock Opus runs July 15 through August 7, Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30 PM. All performances are held at District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. Admission is $25.

For tickets and information visit

**Press Night is Saturday, July 16, 7:30 PM at DCAC. Please email Andrew Baughman at to RSVP.**

Landless Theatre Company also presents another book-to-stage adaption as part of the Capital Fringe Festival: CAPTAIN FREEDOM - A SUPERHERO’S QUEST FOR TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE CELEBRITY HE SO RICHLY DESERVES. Visit for tickets and information.

Visit for details on the Landless Theatre Company’s season.

About Landless Theatre Company: The Landless Theatre Company is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to infusing vitality into the local arts by producing exciting and accessible alternative theatre to generate new and diverse audiences.  More information and production history online at   

Landless Theatre Company
Rock Bottom
A Rock Opus
Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Baughman
Additional Material by Michael Shilling and Talia Segal
Book by Michael Shilling and Andrew Lloyd Baughman
based on the novel ROCK BOTTOM by Michael Shilling

The Cast
Darlo Cox - Vaughn Irving*
Joey - Judith Baicich
Deena - Talia Segal
Bobby - Thomas Jackson
Adam - Theodore Vossler
Shane - Andrew Lloyd Baughman
Sarah - Laura L. Fontaine
Danika - Maia Henkin

Production Staff
Director/Production Designer - Melissa Baughman
Music Director - Andrew Lloyd Baughman
Scenic Design - Jared Davis
Stage Manager – Camilla Morrison
Photographer - Amanda Williams


Michael Shilling (Book, additional lyrics, original novel) is the author of Rock Bottom, which Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company published in 2009. His short stories have appeared in The Sun, Fugue, and Other Voices. Back in Seattle after several wild years in the midwest, he teaches at Cornish College of the Arts, and is working on a novel that involves people running out of time while running after each other. He also plays the drums in a soul band. 

Andrew Lloyd Baughman (Book, Music, Lyrics, Shane) is the Producing Artistic Director of Landless Theatre and an Associate Artist of Maryland Ensemble Theatre. Two of his original musicals have been selected participants in New York International Fringe Festival, and his musical Diamond Dead (with Brian Cooper and Emmy-winning composer Richard Hartley) was winner of the 2008 Best Musical Pick of The Capital Fringe. His other original musicals include Gleeam, Carrie Potter at the New Moon Prom and Frozty The Abominable Snowman.

Talia Segal (Additional Music and Lyrics, Deena) is a singer/songwriter, actress, and Washington, DC native. Talia tours the country in support of her original music, and averages about 100 live, solo-acoustic performances per year. Awards: John Lennon Songwriting Contest (Finalist), Telluride Troubador Songwriting Contest (Finalist), SAW/BMI Showcase at the Smithsonian With Lamont Dozier (Finalist), Mid Atlantic Songwriting Contest (Honorable Mention-Folk/Acoustic Category), Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriters' Showcase (Honorable Mention). Songs from Talia's 2 studio albums have garnered licensing contracts with MTV, Oxygen Network, Indesit, and E! Television. She is currently in the studio recording her 3rd album; due for release this fall. For more information, visit

Melissa Baughman (Director) is the resident director and production manager for Landless Theatre Company. Her directing work has included DIAMOND DEAD (2008 Best Musical Pick of the Capital Fringe, 2009 Selected Participant of NYC Fringe), Kyle Jarrow’s PRESIDENT HARDING IS A ROCKSTAR (Washington Post Editor’s Pick), and DC Premieres of WALMARTOPIA, EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL and Ohashi’s GODZILLA. Baughman holds a BA in Theatre from University of Delaware.

Vaughn Irving (Darlo) is new to DC but he has appeared in over 30 professional shows in 9 different states.  DC AREA: Disney's Mulan (Ling), Wind in the Willows (Rat); REGIONAL: Striking 12 (Drummer [Gene]); The Rocky Horror Show (Frank 'n Furter); The Buddy Holly Story (Jerry Allison [Drums]/Richie Valens); The Coward and the Glory (Mason Dixon); Southern Crossroads (Loomis).  He has also played in the pit orchestra at Wayside Theatre, Totem Pole Playhouse, and Pandemonium Productions.  Vaughn is a member of the Acoustic Rock Duo KILLER PAISLEY and a comedy song writer. Vaughn appears courtesy of Actor’s Equity Association.

Judith Baicich (Joey) currently lives in New York, but grew up in PG County and is a member of DC's Cherry Red Productions. Some of her Cherry Red stage credits include Wife Swappers, Schoolgirl Figure, and Poona the Fuckdog and Other Plays for Children. Film credits include and Trapped by The Mormons.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Andrew Baughman
The Landless Theatre Company
(301) 473-2233
Email >
Visit website