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Rocktopia at the Fisher Theatre, 3 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Rob Evan likes to say he "took the lazy way out" by taking his intense classical vocal training to Broadway, where he starred in "Jekyll & Hyde," "Les Miserables," "Little Shop Of Horrors" and Jim Steinman's "Dance Of the Vampires."

There's nothing lazy about that, of course -- or with Evan's role with Trans-Siberian Orchestra on both albums and as part of the group's tours.

Rocktopia, however, is the Georgia-born singer's passion project. The multi-media show -- which Evan created with ?? -- combines rock classics from Led Zepplin, Elton John, the Who, Styx and more with classical classics by Beethoven, Mozart, Rochmaninoff, Handel and others, sometimes in mash-ups between the two fields. A concert filmed in Budapest has been airing on PBS since November and was jsut released on home video, with an album of the same show out on Friday, April 14.

For Evan, Rocktopia is a way of blending "the loves of my life, classical music and rock 'n' roll," growing out of a project called Rock Fusion with conductor Randall Craig Fleischer. "The idea is to kind of expose real classical music to a new audience," Evan explains by phone. "The baby boomers are the same age as (Paul) McCartney and (Mick) Jagger. They're in their 70s. I wante dto expoose a new audience to great classical music, but make it acceptable. If Mozart or Beethoven were alive today, they'd be rock stars. They lived like rock stars. They took all the technology they had at the time and used it. It's not the most hairbrained scheme ever; It kind of makes sense, at least in my mind."

Evan had hoped to record "Rocktopia Live In Budapest: A Classical (R)Evolution" in the U.S. but had no second thoughts after seeing the Hungarian State Opera House where the concert was filmed. "I'd never been to Budapest, but the PBS producer checked it out and you really won't find something old world like that in America," Evan says. "It felt like another star in the show and the perfect place to make theset wo worlds collide. I was concerned the audience would sit on their hands; They're usually very polite in eastern Europe, but my guy over there said, 'Listen, Freddie Mercury sang ('Bohemian Rhapsody') in Hungarian 30 years ago for 'Live in Budapest;' You need to learn that song. So I did and went out and sang it and they flipped out. and right from the beginning there was this crazy vibe for the whole show. It ws pretty cool."

Despite his attachment to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Evan declines to comment on last week's death of group founder Paul O'Neill. "I don't even know how to process that right now, it's just so fresh and raw," he says. "I've been kidn of asked to not really talk about it. It's something nobody expected, and the family is just in shock."


8 p.m. Wednesday, April 12.

The Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit.

Tickets are $49-$109.

Call 313-872-1000 or visit broadwayindetroit.com.


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