Rocktopia Is Coming To The Straz Performing Arts Center In Tampa, FL
After a successful run on Broadway, Rocktopia is taking it on the road! A show where musical genres collide mashing up classical masters such as Beethoven, Puccini and Strauss with rock anthems such as Aerosmith’s “Dream On”, Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” or Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
During the Broadway run, there were guest appearances by such rock stars as Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and Pat Monahan of Train. Tampa was represented by local resident rocker Robin Zander of Cheap Trick fame, who did a week of Rocktopia and spoke to The Sarasota Post exclusively about his experience with the show.
“I thought they were kidding when I was asked to do a week on Broadway for Rocktopia. I was feeling a bit like a fish out of water but that was short-lived once I got there. Everyone was so kind and giving and always had my back. I have so much admiration for the production staff and players for their discipline and dedication. This marriage of Bach, Beethoven, opera and rock music was magically pieced together by some of the best musicians I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Chloe and all the other individual singers were outstandingly diverse with a choir and orchestra that were so exceptional that the standing audience roared back their appreciation. All you had to do was witness the show to know there was nothing like this on Broadway – or anywhere for that matter! To say the least, fun was had by all!” Robin Zander
Chloe Lowery is the singer that Mr. Zander is referring to in Rocktopia. A Florida girl from Largo, Chloe also has been touring with Trans-Siberian Orchestra since 2010 and also sang with the world famous musician Yanni for several years. She has an absolutely amazing voice! She spoke to us from her home in New York to talk about Rocktopia and her newly released album, “The In-Between”.
SP: Will the show have guest stars such as Robin Zander on this tour?
CL: We won’t have big name guest stars on the road like we had in New York, but we will have some new people so it will be like a new experience. Speaking of Robin Zander, I believe he lives in the Clearwater area. I was in Nashville mixing my solo record and Cheap Trick was playing there. They invited me to come to the show and backstage. His whole family is so nice. They brought me onstage at the end of the show to sing “Surrender” with them and it was so exciting. Robin is the nicest guy on the planet.
SP: I saw you with Trans-Siberian Orchestra in December in Tampa. Such a great show! I know you have worked with guitarist Joel Hoekstra who is in the show. Joel gave us a quote about you, “Chloe is a bionic, super-sonic express. She rules.”
CL: I have known Joel since I was 15 years old. I love Joel so much. We have been talking about collaborating one day. I am such a fan of his and we have such mutual admiration for each other knowing each other all these years.
SP: How did you get involved with singing with Yanni?
CL: I worked with Rick Wake who was a very prominent producer in the 80’s and 90’s, who produced Taylor Dayne, Celine and Mariah tracks. He connected with Yanni and called me to work on something and it turned out to be a good fit.
SP: What is Yanni like to work with?
CL: Super spiritual, super calm, all the things you think he is. Very worldly, very wise. He was very much a mentor for me at the time, very nurturing. I haven’t talked to him lately, but I know if I called him and needed him for something, he would pick up the phone.
SP: Where is the Rocktopia tour going and how long will you be on tour?
CL: We are going out for 3 weeks and covering a little bit of all over, except the west. It is a quick tour but we want to get it out around to the fans.
SP: You grew up in Largo?
CP: Yes, I did, and my parents still live there in the house I grew up in. I got my first record deal when I was 12 years old and I pulled out of school to work. I was traveling to New York, L.A. and Nashville to record. When I was 15, I went to boarding school in NY. New York has been my home for the last 15 years or so.
SP: Tell us about your new album “The In-Between”.
CL: Over the course of over 20 years, I have made 10 albums that haven’t really moved much so, I think this might be the right time. I left my comfortable relationship after 6 years and went through a lot of heartbreak. I went through this strange place of I really didn’t know who I was anymore and went through a lot of change very quickly. So I started to write but I am used to working with other collaborators and now I was doing it on my own. I sat in my apartment in Brooklyn and wrote the whole damn thing. It’s my journey of change, self-discovery and heartbreak, it’s my honest truth! I recorded in Nashville.
SP: Will you do a solo tour with the new album?
CL: That is the plan! I will tour after I finish Rocktopia. You will be able to purchase “The In-Between” at the Rocktopia shows in the meantime. Hope to meet some of the fans while on the road.
Rocktopia comes to the Straz on May 14th for one night only! A not-to-miss musical extravaganza! You can get tickets at strazcenter.org.
Photos from Rocktopia and Chloe Lowery. Robin Zander photo by Vicky Sullivan / The Sarasota Post