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. $20-$94. 416-872-1212. Rating: NN 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 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 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.
A few centuries into the future, rock is dead and gone and the almighty Globalsoft Corporation rules the world. Standing out from their conformist 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 Killer Queen ( 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 rock lyrics or shout-outs to Canadian celebrities, from Shania Twain to Bachman, Turner, Overweight (ha, ha).
Mark Fisher 's sets and Tim Goodchild 's costumes clearly demarcate worlds, but ironically the show criticizes computer culture yet distracts us with lots of cyber-imagery. You can bet the ass of that Fat-Bottomed Girl that those laser beams aren't manually controlled.
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 that botched 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.