By mixing classic with classical, a pair of theatre luminaries has created a new live performance sensation

By Laura D.C. Kolnoski

The Who’s Pete Townshend originally wrote “Baba O’Riley” for his planned Life house project, a rock opera successor to the band’s 1969 smash, Tommy. Subtitled “Teenage Wasteland,” the classic ended up on the Who’s Next album and became a post Woodstock anthem.

Decades later, Townsend’s iconic composition is now part of the international sensation Rocktopia, now at the Broadway Theater in Manhattan for a limited engagement through April 8th, featuring special guest Pat Monahan, lead singer of Train.

A fusion of rock and roll and classical master works, interpreted by a full orchestra and professional singers, Rocktopia showcases the works of Mozart, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Puccini, and Rachmaninoff off with those of Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Journey, Queen, Elton John, U2, Foreigner, and other acts the result sold out audiences in Europe and 20 U.S. cities and a PBS special.

Vocalist and recording artist Rob Evan, a member of the multi-platinum selling Trans Siberian Orchestra, who has appeared in Broadway’s Jekyll and Hyde and Les Miserables, created Rocktopia with Randall Craig Fleischer, a pioneer in the fusion of symphonic rock and world music. Joining the production is a five-piece rock band and a 40 person choir.

PHOTO - Rocktopa 1

Rocktopia took eight years to develop, and is based on the supposition that if classical composers were alive today, they would be considered rock stars.

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“We love both classical music and classic rock; there are so many parallels between the genres and those who composed and performed them,” Evan said. “With Rocktopia, we break down barriers and preconceived notions of what either genre is about. Our hope is to electrify and inspire lovers of either musical style with these completely original new pieces.”

The live concert is performed by veteran rock, Broadway, and opera vocalists, including Chloe Lowery (who has performed with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Chris Botti, and Yanni’s Voices); Tony Vincent (American Idiot, RENT, The Voice); Kimberly Nichole (The Voice), Janelle Monae, Slash, Joe Walsh and Alyson Cambridge (Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, Show Boat).
Featured musicians include Grammy Award nominated violinist Máiréad Nesbitt, guitarist Tony Bruno, pianist Henry Aronson, bass player Mat Fieldes, and drummer Alex Alexander.

Broadway Theatre
1681 Broadway, Manhattan shubert.nyc/
theatres/broadway rocktopia.com