‘Rocktopia’: Theater Review Review REVIEWS

Opening Night:
Open Ended

Theater: Broadway Theatre / 1681 Broadway, New York, NY, 10019


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.



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