BWW Previews: ROCK AND CLASSICAL FUSE FOR ROCKTOPIA'S RETURN TO at The Straz Center For The Performing Arts
When vocalist Rob Evan and conductor Randall Craig Fleisher got the idea to artistically fuse classical compositions with iconic rock and roll, do you think they ever imagined that their brainchild Rocktopia would be a beloved international music sensation 8 short years later?
Direct from its smash-hit run on Broadway, on Tuesday, May 14, Rocktopia's one-of-a-kind musical arrangements return to Carol Morsani Hall at The Straz Center of Performing Arts.
Classically trained as an opera singer, Rob dreamed of being a rock star.
"I wanted to be Robert Plant, but I sounded more like Pavarotti," he quipped. "I always loved fusion and I was a member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for 17 years. I wanted to honor the classical themes and the classic rock that I grew up."
That dream birthed Rocktopia, a theatrical concert.
"We feel like we have a fusion that is unique, a little different than anyone's ever done. We're not a tribute band. We don't cover songs; we change them."
With strings in the background, a rock guitar on one side of the stage and a violin on the other side, pairing music from bands like Queen, Journey, U2, Heart, Styx, Foreigner, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and The Who with Mozart, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff, Rocktopia features an elite lineup of world-class vocalists, rock musicians, an orchestra and choir.
Along with Rob and Randall, Alyson Cambridge, James Valenti, Tony Rand, Tia Warren, Máiréad Nesbitt, Tony Bruno, Henry Aronson, James Valenti, and Tampa native Chloe Lowery round out the regular members of Rocktopia.
"One of my favorites arrangements is called 'Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue.' Gershwin and Freddy Mercury fuse together so well. That's our masterpiece. I say that very humbly because I didn't write the songs, but with the movie, it's just so relevant and my first professional job was a Gershwin tour. To have Gershwin and Freddy together - it's one of my favorites."
A common occurrence that has followed each show besides a well-deserved standing ovation has been fans of one genre leave the show wanting to learn and experience more in the other genre of music.
"The great thing about this show is it's really something for the entire family. It's the perfect first rock show for a young person in elementary school and yet it's also appropriate for the grandparents. I think there's something for everyone in the show to connect with every song or movement," he said. "The songs that I picked for the show will live on. I feel so proud of this show, watching it grow, connecting with the artists on stage and that energy bounces off the audience and it comes back to us- it's electric... it's magical."
Rocktopia plays at The Straz Center of Performing Arts on May 14. For tickets and more information visit https://www.strazcenter.org/Events/Straz/Shows/1819_Music/Rocktopia.