date published: November 5, 2007

5 questions with...

Sal ClementeSal Clemente 
by Josh B. Wardrop

Musician/writer/producer Sal Clemente is one of the creators of the popular revue A Night at the Rock Opera, which features the 23-piece Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra performing classic songs by The Beatles, Queen and David Bowie, as well as the original “mini-rock opera” Will We Rock You? The musical runs through November 18 at the Wilbur Theatre.

Q: Rock Opera emerged from failed attempts to mount a live production of Jesus Christ Superstar—an effort thwarted by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, correct?
Correct. We figured we could either give up altogether, or persevere, and the result was a great show we’ve been able to do multiple runs of. So, we have Sir Webber to thank for shooting down one dream and starting another!

Q: Did you ever learn why he said no?
Never. I like to think it’s because he was jealous about how good our version of Superstar was (laughs). So now he’s become the villain in our rock opera—not everyone can say that.

Q: Why, in your opinion, do audiences love Rock Opera?
Well, obviously, it’s the amazing songs. They’re songs people have never had the chance to hear performed live the way they sounded on record. Even Queen used backup tracks to do “Bohemian Rhapsody” live.

Q: Do you have a favorite number in the show?
“Rhapsody” obviously generates huge energy, but what thrills me most is that the Will We Rock You? originals get such a positive response and hold up alongside the classics.

Q: How is it different doing this show at a larger theater like the Wilbur?
The size of the Wilbur allows us to really make the show what we know it can be. But it also brings more pressure—when you’ve got Blue Man Group playing across the street, you know you need to step up your game!