Pick of the glam bunch

Sharona Pick has co-created "Swan Lake Rock Opera."

(photo credit: GABRIEL BAHARLIA)
Sharona Pick is clearly a chip off the old block. Her dad is the iconic pop/rock singer Svika Pick, and Pick Jr. has also put in the hours. Around a decade ago, she enjoyed a pretty successful duo stint with younger sister (and fiancée of celebrated American film director Quentin Tarantino) Daniella Pick and put out a number of singles over the years.
Sharona is currently principally engaged in Swan Lake Rock Opera, which will play at Zappa Club in Herzliya on August 14 (doors open 8:15 p.m., show starts 10 p.m.), with another slot lined up at the Ra’anana Performing Arts Center on September 14 (11 p.m.), with probably more to come.
As the title suggests, there is a lot of Tchaikovsky in there, but plenty of more visceral contemporary sounds, too. The marriage of one of the Russian romantic composer’s bestknown works, albeit written for a ballet, with rock music would suggest some high-energy dynamics and in-your-face visual effects. But Pick begs to differ.
“This is not a grandiose production in the regular sense of the term. This is really very fringe-oriented in its general ambience,” she says.
Off-mainstream it may be, but there is plenty to draw music fans of various stripes in.
“There is a lot of classical music and a lot of rock and roll, and it is pretty grandiose in terms of the sound,” she notes, qualifying her prior claim to a laid-back offering. “But this is not a show just for grand stages. We can perform it on all sorts of stages.”
The epithet “fringe” should really be taken advisedly.
“The show’s a bit wild and a bit comic,” says Pick. “It’s really an entertaining musical, no more than that.”
Pick inherited her musical genes from both sides, with the lyrics of the rock opera penned by her mother, Mirit Shem-Or, while Pick took Tchaikovsky’s charts and coaxed them through a rock-pop prism. Pick’s partners in creative musical crime include choreographer Shani Katzman and music director Assaf Abarbuch, while stylists Shir Peled and Anna Podrobinok are responsible for recreating the spirit of the glam rock days of the early 1970s.
Pick says she had good raw material to work with.
“I took the amazing beloved melodies of Tchaikovsky and fused them into songs. I left a lot of the original classical material and feel, and I changed a lot as well.”
She hopes the end result will appeal to a wide cross-section of the public.
“I think that even people who are not into classical music will like this show, too. I think they will be drawn to the beauty of these tunes, to which they are not normally exposed.
Unfortunately, most people don’t go to see the [Swan Lake] ballet,” she says.
While it would be natural to assume that Pick grew up on the pop and rock sounds which no doubt inspired her famous dad, she says she fed off a wide range of sonic offerings in her formative years.
“I grew on Tchaikovsky’s ballet and the music from a very young age. My parents are musicians, and we heard a lot of classical music at home – especially Swan Lake, which is very popular and very harmonic. My father played it for us kids,” she recounts.
Fast forward some 20 years, and Pick’s mother writes a show tailored not only to bring in the crowds but also to offer them a glimpse of the great romantic composer’s work in 21st century consumer-friendly format and also to enlighten them about the tale behind the perennially popular ballet.
“People may know some of the music, but they generally don’t know the story,” says Pick. “Even when you go to see the ballet on stage, you don’t really understand the storyline unless you read the program notes.”
Briefly, the music and ballet tell the tale of an insouciant young prince named Siegfried who is far too busy having a good time to consider the impending affairs of state. All that changes when he falls in love with a beautiful woman, Odette, who has been turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer.
As a youngster, Pick was taken with the ultimately tragic fable. With her mother’s help, she has now found a way to enlighten others about the yarn in a visually and aurally dynamic way. The here-andnow ethos of the production has the prince’s character presented in a slightly more hip manner, calling him Ziggy. That naturally puts one in mind of David Bowie’s glam rock era alter ego Ziggy Stardust, a character of whom Svika Pick was keenly aware back in the day.
“That’s very much a part of my upbringing, even though I wasn’t around during the glam rock years,” says Pick. “My father was into that, and he tried to do glam rock stuff in Israel, too.”
In those days, Israel was a far more culturally conservative place.
“No one here knew about that, but my dad didn’t care, he just ran with the music he loved. And I grew up on that, and I wanted to bring it to the stage with this production. There is Renaissance music, classical music and glam [rock]. It all tied in conceptually,” she explains.
All the numbers in Swan Lake Rock Opera are performed in English which, of course, conjures up thoughts of taking the enterprise across the seas.
“We want this production to run for a long time and take it abroad,” says Pick. “I have always had a dream of taking a show to New York or London. I have had that dream since I was small.”
For now, music fans can catch the rock opera in Herzliya and Ra’anana, but the show seems tailor-made to appeal to culture consumers in foreign climes, too. So don’t be surprised if you come across Pick and Shem-Or’s names in glittering bright lights on Broadway or in the West End one of these days.
‘Swan Lake Rock Opera’ will be performed at Zappa Club in Herzliya on August 14 (doors open 8:15 p.m., show starts 10 p.m.); and at the Ra’anana Performing Arts Center on September 14 at 11 p.m. For tickets and more information: Herzliya – *9080; and www.zappa-club.co.il.
Ra’anana – *8864; (09) 746-4036; and http://www.mishkanraanana.com