Imagine a future where Facebook and CRAP (computer recorded auto-tuned pop) reign supreme. A world without organic music, a world without personality, a world without rock! That is the world that awaits you in Ben Elton’s jukebox musical We Will Rock You, now playing at Music Hall at Fair Park. As with any post-apocolyptic tale of doom, this story has a bright side. A band of bohemians is on the verge of figuring out what “rock n’ roll” really is, and when they finally discover the secret, rock will again change the world!
We Will Rock You (WWRY) is the brain child of writer Ben Elton, remaining Queen members Brian May, and Roger Taylor, along with Robert DeNiro, who’s daughter is a huge fan of Queen’s work. After a run in London, which received scathing critical reviews including one in the Daily Mirror which said that writer Ben Elton “should be shot” for having conceptualized the play. Thankfully, after multiple re-writes, re-imaginings, re-stagings and re-inventions, the show I saw on opening night was nothing short of awesome!
The North American tour, which is currently playing Dallas, is very, very good. The story has been re-worked to be more relevant to American audiences, the music expanded, the staging modernized, and the volume cranked! WWRY has the look and feel of a modern rock concert, complete with booming bass and intelligent lighting. It also has an extremely talented group of actors and musicians pushing the vocal envelope.
The cast of characters are lead by Galileo (Brian Justin Crum) who is, at least in this show, Broadway’s answer to late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, in fact, there was a very brief moment during “You’re My Best Friend” where I, and several other audience members felt a chill run up our spine as his vocal cadence perfectly mirrored that of Mercury’s. I felt like I had heard a ghost. There are moments, specifically in Act 1 where his acting seems very forced…think Shatner, but he calms down as the show progresses. Crum’s vocals are really powerful and are worth the price of admission alone. Scaramouche is played by actress Ruby Lewis. Her vocals work in perfect harmony with, and at times rival Crum’s. Together, Lewis and Crum are the perfect on stage vocal duo.
Other cast notables include Brit played by Jared Zirilli, Buddy played by Ryan Knowles, Oz played by Erica Peck and Khashoggi played by P.J. Griffith. The cast is strong, energetic, and thanks to some clever writing, each actor really gets to run with their character’s quirks and make each role their own.
Nate Patten’s occasionally visible on-stage band is also quite remarkable as the pump out Queen hits like, “You’re My Best Friend,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and my personal favorite “Killer Queen.”
One part Broadway musical, and two parts rock concert…We Will Rock You is a loud, fabulous, musical spectacle that has a little something for everyone. Definitely see this show, then run home and download Queen’s entire discography…I did!
We Will Rock You runs at Music Hall at Fair Park through March 16th. Tickets and information are available at DallasSummerMusicals.org.
NOTE ON BEHALF OF THEATRE GOERS: To the woman who sat in front of me drunkenly bouncing about in her seat, singing the songs aloud, loudly talking to her husband during every dialogue scene, and who picked a fight with the gentleman in our row who had the courage to ask you to quiet down…this may be a rock jukebox musical, but it is still theatre, and not a 1970s rock concert. Please, for the sake of all of us, control yourself (and your drinking) the next time you come to the theatre. Thanks, and rock on!