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Deb Randall is the founder of Venus Theatre in Laurel.
Deb Randall is the founder of Venus Theatre in Laurel. (Staff photo by Brian Krista, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Deborah Randall has a feeling that Venus Theatre’s current production, “The Powers That Be,” is going to offend someone.

With an opening scene that features her bound, gagged and hanging from the ceiling, to a score that features “screaming rock,” the rock opera is a collaboration between Randall and her musician husband, Alan Scott, that deals with what it means to be a “woman right now.”

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“You’re double-bound as a woman,” Randall said. “You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. It’s time to scream a little.”

This is the 70th women-empowering project that Venus has produced, Randall said, and it the third time she has collaborated with her husband.

“He and I were in the middle of nowhere with a huge screened porch,” Randall said. “I wrote on notes. In two days, we wrote 17 songs.”

“There has never been another person who I can sit down with and over a course of hours write seven songs,” Scott said. “She is a great collaborator.”

Though there is only a cast of six, there are many characters, Scott said, allowing him to include a variety of musical genres.

‘All of the characters have their own personalities,” Scott said. “There is hip hop, jazz, classic rock, ‘80s rock, heavy metal. It’s all in there.”

Writing every morning, Randall said, helped heal her after the murder of her friend Tricia McCauley in 2016.

“There are so many things you are not supposed to speak or talk about,” Randall said. “With all the violence in the world ... we have to keep feeling. We need to change.”

“The Powers That Be” features goddesses that come to life with songs of truth and what happens after that, Randall said. It is not meant for all ages.

“We laugh and cry and play together,” Randall said. “I lost my friend. She was raped and strangled. I live with it every day.”

The rock opera is the last Venus show of the 2019 season. In December, Randall reads through the many scripts women have sent her.

“I receive two or three play submissions a day,” Randall said. “It’s overwhelming.”

From those, she will select next season’s productions with the season likely starting in March.

Right now, she is excited about the rock opera.

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“It feels good,” Randall said. “We’ve only had a few rehearsals as a whole cast, but I’m pretty excited.”

As to hanging from a harness in the opening scene, Randall paused.

“I’m 63,” Randall said. “I can’t be tied up and gagged much longer. I’m tired.”

Carol Hess, Randall’s dance professor in college, is the choreographer of the show and worked on the harnessing section.

“It’s been amazing to reconnect and work with her," Randall said.

“The Powers That Be” runs Nov. 21 through Dec. 15 at Venus Theatre, 21 C. St. in Laurel. Call 202-236-4078.

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