Special Reports

Broadway Shockers 2018: A Hilariously Misguided Montage in Rocktopia

The so-called classical revolution offered one memorable moment…for all the wrong reasons.

As 2018 draws to a close, TheaterMania looks back on some of the most jaw-dropping stories of the year.

There was much to slam in Rocktopia, the glorified rock concert that somehow made it to Broadway earlier this year: the half-baked nature of its mash-ups of classical music and classic rock, the pandering to baby boomer nostalgia, even the unbalanced sound design that drowned out the chorus and orchestra. Even those inadequacies, however, paled in comparison to the monumental failures of taste contained in the video projections for the show.

At best, the projections offered cheesy but innocuous Windows screen-saver-like images to accompany the musical performances. But then came the barrage of porn-theater marquees to underscore Kimberly Nichole's interpretation of "Because the Night," because how better to illustrate the romantic nature of "the night belong[ing] to lovers" than images evoking adult movie theaters? And while photographs of real-life rebellions around the world seemed a tad presumptuous for a mash-up of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2" and Muse's "Uprising," the idea had a certain base logic to it.

Neither of those montages, however, prepared one for Rocktopia's pièce de resistance of tastelessness. As Tony Vincent took on Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever" and "We Are the Champions," faces of "champions" throughout history were projected onscreen, including Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, Vincent van Gogh…and most hilariously of all, Anne Frank.

Perhaps the fact that there's no credited director for Rocktopia helps explain these pairings of photos of these late historical luminaries — some of them with genuinely inspiring records of fighting for human rights — with a bombastic Queen song frequently heard at sporting events. For better or worse, though, it certainly gave all who saw Rocktopia something to remember.