It was only a few days ago that I had gotten my hands on the Official Press Release about the upcoming Broadway musical experience known as “Rocktopia” and since the worlds attention span is so fleeting nowadays HERE is that notice in case you missed it for some reason. This past Tuesday I had the honor and pleasure of watching a few numbers from the upcoming show at the legendary SIR Studios. Check out my brief about the experience and get excited for “Rocktopia”.
For me, a Broadway show is one of those experiences that cannot easily be explained. I think that they are wonderous and while I don’t get to as many as I would like to based on the occasional difficult ticket or the price tag on a good seat, when I do go it’s something that I find myself talking about for weeks on end. I’ve leaned on the musical more than anything dramatic and have added “Grease” (during its original run and redo), “Miss Saigon”, “Pirates Of Penzance”, “Sweeney Todd”, “Little Shop Of Horrors”, “Wicked” and “Rent”. Hmm, maybe I should start doing reviews of this stuff on PiercingKen.com but I digress. My appreciation for the theatre and all of the talented people that make things happen made the invite to the press preview for “Rocktopia” at SIR Studios a very awesome thing. Here’s my thoughts on the proceedings.
Once everyone was assembled and comfortable, Rob Evan greeted the members of the press and gave us an overview of what “Rocktopia” actually was. Readers of this website might already know his name from all of our concert reports featuring the Trans-Siberian Orchestra but he is also known for being on Broadway in “Jekyll and Hyde”. Evan mused how the Classical composers of old were the Rock Stars of their day and these notables are likely very known to you since he was speaking about Mozart, Beethoven, Handel and more. When you think about it, it makes total sense since so many of their compositions are big and bombastic pieces. He was then joined by the co-creator Randall Craig Fleischer who shared how “Rocktopia” seeks to merge these two worlds with a result that would leave their audience screaming for more. Could contemporary Rock music of today be merged with Classical compositions? Well of course they can because we see this in modern music more often than we do not these days.
Evan explained how for today’s press preview that the orchestrations would be on tape but in the live setting of the show will be a full orchestra along with the pieces of a Rock band. Today we would have said band and a small choir to bring some of the shows selections to life. The band is comprised of Tony Bruno (guitar/music director), Mairead Nesbitt (violin), Henry Aronsen (piano), Mat Fieldes (bass) and Alex Alexander (drums). For the press review the bass was filled in by the capable Greg Smith who Metal heads will know as having recently toured with Ted Nugent.
This brief clip was done for our Official Instagram.
As the music began, opera singer Alyson Cambridge came out doing a classical piece by Handel, and as it progressed singer Tony Vincent appeared and began to sing the melodies of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”. I enjoyed how they seemed to effortlessly meld the two pieces from two different times in our worlds music history but it worked. Then singer Chloe Lowery was up and began to sing “Alone” by Heart which found her joined by the previous two and Kimberly Nichole. Whew. This was quite interesting and in my mind I was trying to envision this in a large theatre with a larger company. Having mentioned the mighty TSO just before, I should share that Ms. Lowery is a part of the West Coast Company of that touring enterprise. When Evan and Fleischer returned to talk to the press they cited how all of these songs needed to have the rights and permissions secured and Evan shared a story about his chat with Pete Townsend when it came to their interest in doing “Baba O’Reilly”. The upcoming Broadway show will also feature the popular song by Train in “Drops Of Jupiter” and while they shared that these shows will often feature a special guest or two, that the singer of Train (Patrick Monahan) would be joining the company for several sequential appearances during the residency.
Another story was told about their inclusion of the Patti Smith song “Because The Night” and how Patti herself had heard it and loved it. Kimberly and Chloe knocked this one out of the park and I had to say that the band was kicking some serious behind. The Rock was surely present thanks to Bruno on guitar. I’ve read that in addition to his mainstream accomplishments that the axe slinger has some past history with the bands Saraya and Danger Danger. It was also a treat to watch Nesbitt on the violin as the musician is most famously known for her being a part of the Celtic Woman production. The final number in this short presentation would be “Nessum Dorma” which was delivered to perfection by Rob Evan. I mean this one was sending chills down everyone’s spine in the room as notes were scribbled and photos and video were snapped. Evan would be joined by Vincent and Cambridge towards the end of the number and once it came to a crescendo it was over. What was interesting about its close was how it became a rocking rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. Fantastic. The company and musicians took their bows and now it would be time for the dailies to get their snaps of the players and to talk to the creative minds behind the project. The publicity team had set up a nice offering of sandwiches, chips, coffee and sodas for those who needed a little bit to eat. This was a great inclusion considering it was done at lunchtime and I was ravenous but I digress. As far as previews go this one was exceptional and really made me more interested in the project and seeing it on the Broadway stage. It will begin its run on March 20th at the Broadway Theatre and end on April 29th. If you are a fan of the two sides of the musical coin and want a completely satisfying and fun musical experience you will love what “Rocktopia” is going to be delivering. I can hardly wait myself.
1. “Lascia Ch¹Io Pianga” (Handel)/”Don¹T Let The Sun Go Down On Me” (Elton John) /”Piano Concerto No.2 In C Minor” (Rachmaninoff)/”Alone” (Heart) Performed by Alyson Cambridge, Tony Vincent, and Chloe Lowery with Kimberly Nichole
2. “Romeo & Juilette Overture” (Tchaikovsky Orchestra)/”Because The Night” (Patti Smith) Performed by Kimberly Nichole with Chloe Lowery
3. “Nessun Dorma” (Puccini) Performed by Rob Evan, Tony Vincent and Alyson Cambridge
Here are several images from the smile for the cameras time. I wasn’t able to get everyone in a solo shot since some were doing interviews at the time but we got the one big group shot at the end which was perfect.
Our “Rocktopia” Performance Gallery can be viewed HERE
Official Website: http://www.rocktopia.com