By Barry Bassis.
“Rocktopia” (the musical revue running at the Broadway Theatre for six weeks) claims to represent the meeting of classical and rock music. It’s not exactly a marriage of convenience.
Snippets of familiar classical music segue into rock songs, mostly from the 1970’s and 1980’s (not the most inspired period in American or British pop music.)
The audience is basically made up of rock fans, who enjoy the American Idol style singing that predominates by singers who have good voices if not much restraint.
Perhaps the best is Kimberly Nichole, of “The Voice,” who performs “Because the Night.” Patti Smith (who co-wrote the song with Bruce Springsteen and made a hit recording of it) is on record as saying Nichole’s is the all-time best version of the song.
“Special guest star” Pat Monahan, lead singer of the band Train, delivered Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On” with authority. Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander will replace him as guest star from April 23-29.
Tony Vincent (also of “the Voice” as well as Broadway shows, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “American Idiot.” He takes on Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.”
Chloe Lowery belts out Heart’s soaring “Alone” and Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
The classical music gets short shrift. Puccini especially takes it on the chin. The combinations are hard to figure out. Richard Strauss’s “Also sprach Zarathustra” is the intro to the Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” leads to Queens’ “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Some strains from Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” lead into Styx’s “Come Sail Away.”
If co-creator and musical arranger Randall Craig Fleischer is a classical conductor, he doesn’t prove it here.
Queen’s “We Are the Champions” is accompanied by a strange photo montage, which includes a number of artists whose work is not represented here as well as Anne Frank.
Celtic violinist Máiréad Nesbitt is skillful and unusually animated. She moves more in each show than Isaac Stern probably did in his whole career.
If you are a fan of the Voice and the numbers performed here, you will probably have a good time.