Rocktopia on Broadway

  “Welcome to Katz Reviews. This is Ed Katz of Katnip Marketing- marketing consultant by day; theater and film critic by night- bringing my weekly review segment, Katz Reviews, here for you on WICC 600.

Well, that was different.

‘Rocktopia’ – the new Broadway musical that runs only through April 29th- is not really a Broadway musical.

I mean it is on Broadway and it is musical, but it’s really a concert. There’s no story to it. Six lead vocalists, an enormous “hallelujah chorus,” an orchestra, a lead guitarist, Tony Bruno, and a lead violinist: Mairead Nesbitt, known from ‘Celtic Woman,’ who is a rock star in her own right with her musicianship as well as her dancing and wielding her bow like a sword.

 Mairead Nesbitt, Rob Evans;

The creators are calling it ‘Rocktopia- a Classical Revolution.’ Well, it’s their show so I guess they can call it what they want. But the hyperbole in that statement hints that this show might be a better fit for Las Vegas than Broadway. That’s just my take on it. Still, it has its moments.

Blending classic opera with classic rock isn’t an entirely new concept. Electric Light Orchestra did it pretty successfully in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s- and it led to their induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year.

Another group still doing it is Trans Siberian Orchestra. Their lead vocalist, Rob Evans, is one of the creators of this show- along with Randall Craig Fleischer, who also conducts here. And Evans serves as one of the vocalists. The second male vocalist is Tony Vincent, who I last saw on Broadway in the Green Day rock musical, ‘American Idiot.’ Here in ‘Rocktopia,’ he handled both Queen songs very capably.

 l to r: Rob Evans, Kimberly Nichole, Chloe Lowery, Alyson Cambridge, Tony Vincent;

The female vocalists were diverse: Chloe Lowery was remarkable. She has a terrific voice and actually made Foreigner’s sappy rock ballad, ‘I Want to Know What Love Is,’ sound good- so I give her a lot of credit for that. Alyson Cambridge handled the operatic elements. Not my cup of tea but she certainly showed she can hit the notes.

Kimberly Nichole was the third female vocalist. Good voice but she held back on Patti Smith’s ‘Because the Night,’ which was disappointing as that song became iconic because Smith went all out on it.

 Pat Monahan;

As I said, ‘Rocktopia’ will only be on Broadway through April 29th but, over the course of its run, there are three male “Guest Vocalists”: Pat Monahan from Train (whom I saw), Dee Snider from Twisted Sister and- for its final week- Robin Zander from Cheap Trick.

If you are interested, my suggestion is to get tickets while Pat Monahan is still in it- or for the last week, with Robin Zander. It was clear Monahan was enjoying himself and he really did sound terrific, getting the biggest hand towards the end for his band’s biggest hit, ‘Drops of Jupiter.’ Expect that song to be changed when Zander takes over for the final week starting April 23rd- but I’ve seen Zander sing with Cheap Trick many times and his voice still sounds incredible. I know he will do a great job.

 Robin Zander of Cheap Trick

Dee Snider? I have my doubts he’ll be able to hit the notes like Monahan and Zander.

So if the idea of classical music fused with rock classics is appealing to you then you will want to catch this short-run show before it closes April 29th. I found it had some highs and some lows as some parts worked very well and others- not so much- and I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Catch my reviews right here this time each week and on my Facebook page and website, Katz Reviews dot com, where you will find all my WICC 600 reviews.

This is Ed Katz talking theater for WICC 600!”