Máiréad Nesbitt and Rob Evan
By Eugene Paul
originated in Budapest eight years ago bills itself as a classical revolution,
its logo a bust of Beethoven overlaid with an electric guitar, its stars Rob
Evan, Chloe Lowery, Tony Vincent, Kimberly Nichole, Alyson Cambridge and Pat
Monahan. That bust transforming electric guitar is played by Tony Bruno.
Pat Monahan and guitarist Tony Bruno
Nesbitt plays an electric violin and long platinum hair. Henry Aronson is
dignified at a grand piano. Maestro Randall Craig Fleischer conducts the New
York Contemporary Symphony and the New York Contemporary Choir, which is
divided, half in sturdy looking bleachers either side of the great Broadway
Theatre stage. In one corner is concentrated a high tech electronic console
double staffed. Across the back of the stage are electronic panels which
present a constant light show interpretive of the music. It is a towering
enterprise built atop a single pinpoint: electric power. Pull the plug and
is almost the way the show started. Rob Evan, microphone in hand addressed us.
Nothing. He tried again. Nothing. He waggled at the master control console
and a flustered but determined technician came out, handed him another
microphone and—the show was on. It was the last spontaneous moment in the
entire engineered program, but we didn’t know that then so it was kind of fun.
Or – hmmm, was it staged?
you are likely to look at your program to see who staged the show, who wrote
the show or who composed the music you’d be a bit discombobulated because no
such accreditations are there but do not despair: deeper in the program, right
before the Shubert Organization page nearer the back, after the bios of the
entire cast, you’ll find most of a page printed in 8 point type, good eyes
required, which does indeed list the entire musical program, the composers both
classical eminences and rock eminences, each pairing as wedded in the
performance, rather like Beethoven with that guitar in his face. For example”
“Alzo Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss, public domain, paired with “Baba
O’Riley” by The Who, written by Peter Townshend, Spirit Music copyright. There
are additional forty-some compositions, classical, classicalish combined with
rock, and rockish which make up the entire musical evening.
Tony Vincent and guitarist Tony Bruno
that’s only part of the show. Throughout, there’s the incredibly wide ranging
video designs by Michael Stiller and Austin Switser. From kinderkitsch through
worlds of history, art, architecture, pop icons, burgeoning to memento mori.
There’s the entire controlled auditory design by Nick Kourtides, from silence
to gut rending. There is unending, ever changing, lighting, ranging in every
color and intensity from blinding to visually hushed which is somehow not
credited, but costume design (Cynthia Nordstrom) is paired with fashion design
(Mimi Strober), so while you lose some credits, you gain some credits.
Maestro Randall Craig Fleischer
everybody works. Hard. Conductor, musicians, soloists, vocalists, engineers,
crew. Nothing looks easy, nobody holds back. Every number builds to wall
shaking. It’s seventy percent an old fashioned outdoor arena type rock show
brought to Broadway indoors, welded to a road show classical concert with
necessary electrified voices – how else can you compete? – For a rectification
of balance, which never happens. Applause is summoned – and earned – again and
again during the hour and a half of the first act, after which there seems to
be a general sorting in the audience, from the standing ovationeers to the
bolters, and hard as it may be to believe, the snoozers _ through all that
teeth vibrating din? – refreshed, ready for more.
is, if you bought into the premise: that great classical music and rock music
have a natural affinity and continuity of esthetic, a consummation devoutly to
be wished. Nothing could be further from the truth.
the Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway at 53rd Street. Tickets: $35-
$187. 212-239-6200. 2 hrs 20 min. Thru Apr 29.