Fleischer’s ‘Rocktopia’ gains momentum with tour dates


By GUY D’ASTOLFO

dastolfo@vindy.com

“Rocktopia,” Randall Craig Fleischer’s original show that fuses classical music with classic rock, is going to the next level.

A series of performances is being scheduled this spring in cities throughout the country, beginning April 13 at Cleveland’s State Theatre. Tickets went on sale this week at playhousesquare.org.

Fleischer is the music director and conductor of the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Anchorage Symphony and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. He composed “Rocktopia” by weaving classic rock songs by the likes of Pink Floyd, Journey, The Who and Styx, with bits of well-known classical music by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Copland and others.

In the show, a rock band, fronted by some big-voiced singers, is teamed on stage with a full orchestra.

The singers include co-creator Rob Evan, a Broadway actor and singer, as well as a member of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

While “Rocktopia” is reminiscent of TSO, it is substantially different. For one thing, the rock songs are covers of classic hits and not originals. There is also much more of an emphasis on the orchestra. TSO has a string section on stage, but it performs its classical interludes with electric guitars and an electric violin.

“Rocktopia” does use high-definition screens and a light show to punch up its performance, but not to the great extent of TSO.

Fleischer actually premiered “Rocktopia” at Powers Auditorium in Youngstown in 2012.

Since then, the show has become the signature piece for the music director, who is a Canton native, and Evan.

Understandably, Fleischer is excited that the show has come to fruition and is on the verge of going national.

“I am beside myself,” he said. “I am thrilled beyond words.”

Writing “Rocktopia” is something that has been decades in the making for Fleischer.

“Some of the sequences in ‘Rocktopia’ have been turning around in my head for 20 years,” he said. “Given that PBS is very enthusiastic about it and we have gathered a fabulous team [for the live performances], I have tremendously high hopes for its future.”

The “Rocktopia” show that will hit Cleveland and about 20 other cities this spring will include a five-piece band and a handful of singers, including Evan.

Orchestral musicians will be hired in each city for the show, said Fleischer, who will not be the conductor for the tour because his schedule already was booked.

Youngstown is not on the tour, but Fleischer said he hopes to bring “Rocktopia” back to Powers Auditorium in the near future.

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