When Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider wrote “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” never did he imagine it would be performed onstage with Strauss’ “The Blue Danube Waltz.” But that pairing is a reality in the Oct. 20 production of “Rocktopia” at LIU Post’s Tilles Center in Brookville.
“It’s a killer mashup that becomes an eruptive moment in the show,” says Snider, who grew up in Baldwin. “It works really well — totally brings the house down.”
“Rocktopia” intertwines original compositions of classical masters — Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky — with the classic rock music of Pink Floyd, The Who, Styx and David Bowie.
“If Mozart or Beethoven were alive today, they’d be our rock stars,” says co-creator Rob Evan. “We pair their music with iconic rock bands that we feel will live on 100 years from now.”
Not only is Snider singing his own music, but he has been entrusted with the vocals on ballads such as Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” blended with Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7, Allegretto” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On” interspliced with Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.”
“There’s an audible gasp when I get up there,” Snider says. “I come out onstage and there’s no jumping around or screaming, it’s about standing there and singing. People are like, ‘I didn’t know he could sing?’ I’ve always benefitted from the fact that people have very low expectations of me.”
There’s even a moment when Snider sings with Evan and operatic soprano Alyson Cambridge.
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“Dee is a full member of the band. He’s our secret weapon,” Evan says. “People think of him screaming in makeup, but he’s actually a real singer.”
In fact, the heavy metal star was a classically trained all-county countertenor in his Baldwin High School years.
“I sang in choirs since I was a kid,” Snider says. “The choir boy and rocker were at war with each other inside me. Eventually rock and roll won.”
Although he’s singing rock songs for this production, the arrangements call for him to tap into his classical training.
“It’s a whole different style of singing,” Snider says. “Classical singing is from the diaphragm and rock singing is all in the throat.”
But after all these years of throwing down with the metalheads, why would a 63-year-old rocker want to change gears?
“I love the challenge of it all,” Snider says. “It forces me to use my vocal chords differently and makes me stretch. I enjoy things that take me to another place.”
BACK ON CAMPUS
Playing at Post will be a bit of a homecoming for Snider, who was a student at the college in the ’70s.
“I worked at WCWP radio station there, and I was at the opening of the Tilles Center,” he says. “Now I’m coming to perform there, which is kind of crazy.”
Snider and his wife, Suzette, moved off Long Island four years ago in favor of the warmer weather in Las Vegas and better proximity to their grandchildren on the West Coast. But "Long Island is my home," he says.
As for the future, Snider wouldn't mind being a permanent fixture in the “Rocktopia” company tour when he's not touring with his metal band. Snider says, "It’s the best of both worlds. I’m all in on this thing.”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Oct. 20 at LIU Post's Tilles Center in Brookville
INFO 516-299-3100, tillescenter.org