WE WILL ROCK YOU written and directed by Ben Elton (Mirvish Productions in association with Queen, Phil McIntyre Entertainment and.
WE WILL ROCK YOU written and directed by Ben Elton (Mirvish Productions in association with Queen, Phil McIntyre Entertainment and Tribeca Theatrical Productions). At the Canon Theatre (244 Victoria). Limited run, Tue-Sat 8 pm, mat Sat-Sun 2 pm. $20-$94. 416-872-1212. Rating: NN
Less talk, more rock.
If that sounds like the tagline for a baby boomer classic rock station,it’s also what you’ll be thinking during the cheesy spoken sections of We Will Rock You, the quasi-musical Taylor-made (that’s the quality of the show’s humour) for generations of Queen fans.
The still-inventive tunes made memorable by Taylor (Roger, that is), Brian May, that other guy and especially lead singer Freddie Mercury are the main reason to catch this show.
The strongest songs (Under Pressure, Another One Bites The Dust, the title anthem) have a built-in rhythmic and melodic drama and they’re well matched by energetic lyrics that can, in a song like Bohemian Rhapsody, spin out into wild operatic outrageousness.
The trick for writer Ben Elton is connecting these two dozen songs together in a plausible way to maximize their impact and climax in the inevitable onstage rock concert that’ll get those glow sticks a wavin’. He starts out well but collapses in a ridiculous second act.
He’s set the show a few centuries into the future, when rock is dead andgone and the almighty Globalsoft Corporation rules the world.
Generic-looking kids are addicted to the Internet, download everything in their lives and blather on about Radio Ga Ga. It’s a clever satire of today’s globalized, wired world and its manufactured mass entertainment.
Standing out from their clone comrades are rebels Galileo (Yvan Pedneault) and Scaramouche (Erica Peck), who soon get caught by Globalsoft’s head honcho, Khashoggi (Evan Buliung) and his dominatrix of a boss, the KillerQueen (Alana Bridgewater). Before long, the two rebels escape, meet a gang of resistance fighters called the Bohemians, and then.. wow. Do I really need to go on? You won’t be seeing this show for its script or its characters, and you won’t not go because they’re weak.
WWRY has all the logic of a Saturday morning cartoon. Most of the jokes come from snatches of lyrics from rock classics, or, in this rejigged Canadian production, shout-outs to Canadian celebrities, from Shania Twain to Bachman, Turner, Overweight (haha).
Production designer Mark Fisher‘s sets and Tim Goodchild’s costumes clearly demarcate which world we’re in – the futuristic cyber-world of the baddies or the grassroots old-time rock’n’roll one.
Ironically, the show criticizes computer culture yet distracts us with lots of cyber-imagery, including retro Atari games. And you can bet the ass of that Fat-Bottomed Girl that those laser beams aren’t manually controlled there’s a computer running them somewhere.
This is essentially a rock concert, and the band, headed by Rick Fox, blows the roof off the Canon. The cast is up to the challenge of even the most difficult songs.
Too bad there aren’t more moments of genuine emotion, especially in thatbotched second act. The omission of the rock ballad You’re My Best Friend is a missed dramatic opportunity.
Still, I have no doubt that the show’s title will come true for a long and loud run.