Fusing Led Zeppelin with Mozart – Interview with Rob Evan of Broadway’s ‘Rocktopia’


Story by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo

“Rocktopia” co-producer Rob Evan grew up listening to a plethora of different musical genres, but when he got into high school, the rock ‘n’ roll sounds of bands such as Led Zeppelin, Queen and Journey really struck him. After all, this was the ’80s, and the huge, energizing sounds of rock were everywhere.

As a singer, Evan had more of an opera sound than a rock vocalist. “When I found that I had a singing voice, it sounded more like Pavarotti, but I just wanted to be Robert Plant!” Evan told Audio Ink Radio. “I was kind of being pushed in the opera direction, but I had also always been part of rock bands growing up.”

After college, Evan ended up on Broadway in “Les Miserables,” a production he says was the perfect balance for him, “because it had some more contemporary themes with a little bit of an edgier score.” Fast-forward to today, and now, Evan is gearing up to premiere “Rocktopia” on Broadway. The show has a six-week run beginning with a preview on March 20 and officially opening on March 27. Pat Monahan from Train will join the show for the production’s initial three weeks.

“Rocktopia,” which Evan describes as a concert more than a musical, blends the songs of classical masters with celebrated classic rock songs. Pieces from Led Zeppelin, Journey and Queen are mixed with works from Mozart, Beethoven and Rachmaninov.

“We wanted to take what the masters wrote and fuse those with classic rock, and we found a commonality between these two worlds,” Evan said. “We started developing this project eight years ago. We felt that if Beethoven and Mozart were alive today, they would be our rock stars.”

“I think catalogs like Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and Queen are going to resound way beyond our lifetimes,” he added. “I’m watching my kids now roll back around to classic rock, because they love these giant hooks that they write. Beethoven wrote giant hooks, too.”

Evan says he hopes audiences members take away “aha moments” from “Rocktopia.”

“It’s so fun to be onstage and watch the audience and realize what song we just fluidly went into and see them nudge their partner, as in, ‘Oh my gosh, I love this song!'” he said. “We have five very different and unique singers, from a singer from the Metropolitan Opera to an artist who is a cross between Pink and Tina Turner. When we’re up there singing, we’re all just being us. When I’m singing U2’s ‘Where the Streets Have No Name,’ I’m not trying to be Bono. I’m being me.”

For more on “Rocktopia” and the show’s Broadway run, visit Rocktopia.com.