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 WeWill Rock You, the quasi-musical Taylor-made (that's the quality of theshow's humour) for generations of Queen fans.
The still-inventive tunes made memorable by Taylor (Roger, that is), BrianMay, that other guy and especially lead singer Freddie Mercury are themain reason to catch this show.
The strongest songs (Under Pressure, Another One Bites The Dust, the titleanthem) have a built-in rhythmic and melodic drama and they're wellmatched 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 songstogether in a plausible way to maximize their impact and climax in theinevitable onstage rock concert that'll get those glow sticks a wavin'. Hestarts 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 intheir lives and blather on about Radio Ga Ga. It's a clever satire oftoday'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 headhoncho, Khashoggi (Evan Buliung) and his dominatrix of a boss, the KillerQueen (Alana Bridgewater). Before long, the two rebels escape, meet a gangof resistance fighters called the Bohemians, and then - wow. Do I reallyneed to go on? You won't be seeing this show for its script or itscharacters, and you won't not go because they're weak.
WWRY has all the logic of a Saturday morning cartoon. Most of the jokescome from snatches of lyrics from rock classics, or, in this rejiggedCanadian production, shout-outs to Canadian celebrities, from Shania Twainto Bachman, Turner, Overweight (haha).
Production designer Mark Fisher's sets and Tim Goodchild's costumesclearly demarcate which world we're in - the futuristic cyber-world of thebaddies or the grassroots old-time rock'n'roll one.
Ironically, the show criticizes computer culture yet distracts us withlots of cyber-imagery, including retro Atari games. And you can bet theass of that Fat-Bottomed Girl that those laser beams aren't manuallycontrolled; 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 themost 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 Friendis a missed dramatic opportunity.
Still, I have no doubt that the show's title will come true for a long andloud run.