Theater Review: ‘Rocktopia’ Is A Rocker/Classical Fan’s Utopia

Imagine a music festival where the headliners are Bach and Mozart and suddenly they’re joined by the greatest artists of the classical rock era and everyone (audience included) is jamming to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin”.

That is essentially what you can expect when attending the live concert-style show at The Broadway Theatre during Rocktopia’s 6-week Broadway residency.

Don’t go to this show expecting a full book musical. That’s not what this is. At its core, Rocktopia – Live on Broadway is a spectacle-like experience rather than a narrative story with a thought-provoking plot, but it takes fans through centuries of music – an ever-important and universal art form that still bonds all types of people together — no matter what genre you gravitate towards when you pull up Spotify. Comprised of strong vocalists, including Broadway rocker Tony Vincent; Kimberly Nichole, a finalist on Season 8 of The Voice; a former Broadway Valjean, co-creator, Rob Evan — just to name a few, the music-heavy staged piece certainly doesn’t lack drama (note: the bold lighting choices makes it more dramatic than necessary at times.) In fact, the show takes fans on a musical Journey (no pun intended) from early classical pieces that pull at one’s heartstrings such as “Musetta’s Waltz” to an electrifying performance of “We Are The Champions”, a modern-day classic.

Music Director and Pianist, Henry Aronson is a household Broadway name who is also credited with being the music director of Broadway’s RENT, Rock of Ages, Rocky Horror Picture Show, among others. Tony Bruno, the lead guitarist certainly wore his rocker heart on his sleeve (or should I say his [lack of] shirt and tie.) These two “character-like” musicians juxtaposed with the seriousness of Maestro, Arranger, and Co-Creator Randall Craig Fleischer perfectly epitomized the two very different musical worlds that the production strives to connect. Other notable performances came from opera singer Alyson Cambridge and Chloe Lowery, former vocalist of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. At moments, Lowery’s performance lit up the entire theatre with her powerful vocals, and commanding, yet not overwhelming stage presence. The New York Contemporary Choir in the background on bench-like stands provided pleasant musical support and a concert-like feel.

What rock fans can really appreciate in addition to the clever musical fusion of the past and present are the guest stars coming in and out of The Broadway Theatre over the next 6 weeks. Truly, watching Train’s Pat Monahan (currently guest starring until April 8) sing “Drops of Jupiter”, which was brilliantly synergized with Holst’s “The Planets” was a privilege to see on stage. Speaking of Monahan’s performance, it was a unique and humbling experience to see a successful rock star put himself in a position of artistic vulnerability and dare to sing Puccini. Overall, the audience (myself included) was impressed with his previously unknown abilities. Monahan will be succeeded by Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider (April 9-15) and then Robin Zander of Cheap Trick will close out the touring company’s Broadway run (April 23-29).

You can learn more about Rocktopia – Live on Broadway by visiting https://rocktopia.com/

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