“Rocktopia,” in residence at the Broadway Theatre through April 29, free-wheeling and freely associating, juxtaposes popular pieces of classical music with rock classics, which cover some common ground, in a blend that can feel like a psychedelic three-ring circus, at rock concert volume. The sound and lights, augmented by projections of natural wonders and icons past, can overwhelm, and the lack of the theatergoer’s expected clear cueswho the singers are and what they are singingin the program notes or from the stage, can disorient. But “Rocktopia” can also appeal and sometimes the response rises to revival meeting fervor.
The conception of Broadway and Trans-Siberian Orchestra star Rob Evan and conductor Randall Craig Fleischer, “Rocktopia” brings together a classy group of singers and instrumentalists, including the New York Contemporary Symphony Orchestra and Choir, and here’s a taste of the way it begins: the powerful opening phrases of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” and “2001 A Space Odyssey,” bracket The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” (Teenage Wasteland), the opening of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” featuring violin virtuosa Máiréad Nesbitt, and “Come Sail Away;” George Frideric Handel’s “Lascia ch’io pianga,” from “Rinaldo,” lusciously voiced by opera singer Alyson Cambridge, gives way to, and then is sung in counterpoint to, Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me;” the “Full Moon in Empty Arms” melody from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto Number Two, played by pianist Henry Aronson, yields to Heart’s “(How do I get you) Alone,” in Chloe Lowery’s bravura rendition; and the romance of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” introduces Kimberly Nichole’s sultry “Because the Night (belongs to lovers).” The full company joins Evan for a triumphant “Nessun Dorma,” from Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot,” to ring down the first act curtain.
A colorful “Great Gate of Kiev,” from Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” for the orchestra and chorus, leads into U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name,” with Evans, and with audience participation. Cambridge and Evans join forces for Musetta’s Waltz ”Quando me’n vo’,” from Puccini’s “La Bohème,” with the Beatles’ “Something (in the way she moves),” and Lucio Dalla’s song “Caruso” (“Ti voglio bene assai”). Lowery’s dramatic “I Want to Know What Love Is,” by Mick Jones, for Foreigner, and Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for strings,” featuring Nesbitt, follow. There are a Jupiter pairinga ringing “Jupiter” from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” and “Drops of Jupiter,” with Train’s Pat Monahanand a couple of rhapsodiesGeorge Gershwin’s compelling “Rhapsody in Blue” and Queen’s grand operatic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for the full company, following up on “We Are the Champions,” with Tony Vincent. Guitarist and Music Director Tony Bruno gets a few star turns, some with violinist Nesbitt.
to learn more.