Songwriter Rob Rokicki grew up loving monsters—unsurprising given that he was born on Halloween. That passion doesn’t just come through on Broadway, though, where his score to The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical brings mythological heroes and baddies to life eight times a week at the Longacre Theatre.
At a Feinstein’s/54 Below concert October 29, Rokicki will share Monstersongs, a collection of songs told through the eyes of a little boy fascinated by famous creatures like Medusa, a dragon, a yeti, and a witch. Each song explores the societal constructs that created them.
Growing up watching films like Clash of the Titans and discovering Greek mythology picture books with creatures like the Kraken drove Rokicki’s interest in mythology and monsters from a young age. “I'm interested in the things that scare me,” he says. “So Monstersongs is a little bit about toxic masculinity and this young boy who is worried about how we ‘other’ people.”
The collection was recorded as an album by Rokicki featuring Tony nominees Megan Hilty (Noises Off) and Joe Iconis (Be More Chill) along with Broadway’s Jelani Alladin (Frozen), Julia Murney (Wicked), and more.
With the help of illustrator David O'Neill and virtual reality artist Denise Ko, Rokicki created a rock musical-comic book hybrid that merged song, illustration, and projection into a concert. Among the performances was last year’s presentation at National Alliance for Musical Theatre. “It was really exciting to show all these regional theaters, saying here’s this environmental, immersive theatre piece you could do in a lot of different ways,” says Rokicki.
The concert at Feinstein's/54 Below will use visual screens so audiences get to see the animated live show featuring Murney, Tiffany Mann (Waitress), Rokicki himself, and other Broadway stars.
Each monster is different in style to go along with the song’s message. Medusa’s story is about taking back her narrative, and the snake-haired charmer is represented through the use crumbling terracotta pottery to give the impression of Grecian urns. Other creatures are completely different. For example, the dragon’s story is told through bubbly cartoons.
Exploring group-think and the world we live in now with a patriarchal society is something Rokicki wants to dive into with his work. “We have this mythological deep-seated fear, and that never goes away. You see it now with superheroes that they’re like our own new Greek myths. There is a through-line with the projects I’m drawn to. They have a spooky or mysterious quality to them.”
So, as Halloween approaches, experience Rokicki’s Monstersongs—a visual and aural feast for anyone, whether they’re a human or a misunderstood creature.
For more information, visit 54Below.com.