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March 27, 2018
About two hours in, the touring concert “Rocktopia,” which is making a six-week pit stop on Broadway, had settled into a benign, dull groove. Then the slide show, which until then had been mostly sunsets and rolling clouds, jolted me awake.
Could it be? Yes, that was Anne Frank looming over the stage, followed by images of Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Diana, Princess of Wales and a Van Gogh self-portrait. All of them visual aids for Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”
If anything, “Rocktopia” will go down as featuring one of the most misguided PowerPoint presentations ever to grace a Broadway stage.
Hatched by the singer Rob Evan and the conductor Randall Craig Fleischer, “Rocktopia” brings together the worlds of classical music and rock under the theory that they are more simpatico than a casual listener might assume. The idea is that, say, Mozart was the Mick Jagger of his time, while many beloved singalongs and air-guitar staples draw from centuries-old masterpieces.READ THE REVIEW
March 27, 2018
Heads bob. Arms sway. Hands clap. And, frequently, eyes roll — at least mine did. So it goes during “Rocktopia,” a two-hour concert at the Broadway Theatre through April 29 that blurs the lines between famous rock hits and classical ones. Think, Puccini meets Pink Floyd. If the notion of Mozart’s exuberant “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” married to Styx’s guitar-grinding “Come Sail Away” or a lush Handel aria bleeding into Elton John’s plaintive “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” sounds like music to your ears, this may be the mash-up for you. Otherwise, not so much.READ THE REVIEW
March 27, 2018
Rock and classical music had a shotgun wedding, and their love child is on Broadway in the form of Rocktopia. Not since K-tel’s best-selling Hooked on Classics series in the ’80s has there been such a misguided attempt to combine two musical forms. This concert production, created by Rob Evan and Randall Craig Fleischer, has enjoyed some touring success and the company’s Live in Budapestvideo has become a PBS staple. But the show feels woefully out of place in one of Broadway’s largest and most historic theaters. Ethel Merman, who performed there in Gypsy, must be rolling over in her grave. Speaking of rolling over, the show has somehow left out “Roll Over Beethoven” from its repertoire. But that’s pretty much the only case in which it shows restraint. The concept is simple. Some three dozen rock songs and classical pieces are mashed together in easily digestible musical bites. In most cases, a very recognizable classical number leads directly into a rock anthem, although in some cases they’re intertwined. The music is performed by five vocalists, a rock band, and newly created entities dubbed The New York Contemporary Symphony Orchestra and the New York Contemporary Choir. (The show’s producers got into some hot water when they initially refused to pay the choir members the minimum Broadway rate, but they eventually caved.) The Broadway engagement also features guest appearances by actual rock stars, starting off with Pat Monahan of Train through April 8, followed by Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister (April 9-15), with Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander (April 23-29) finishing out the show’s limited run.READ THE REVIEW