Recommended*** There have been some very successful musicals made from hit songs by a writer, most notably “Mamma Mia”, and tonight, Chicago was host to the start of the American Tour of Queen and Ben Elton’s “We Will Rock You”, a musical that in many ways tells us the story of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, one of Queen’s biggest hits. The title song, “We Will Rock You” is very well known in the United States as most every athletic event has this theme when they are in combat for the victory; Football, baseball, and basketball mostly. Ben Elton, who is known in England as a comedian and comic writer ( tv’s “Mr.Bean”, one of my all time favorites) has taken the music of Queen ( “Another One Bites The Dust”, “We Are The Champions”,”Crazy Little Thing Called Love”,”These Are The Days Of Our Lives”, the aforementioned title song and of course, the aforementioned Bohemian Rhapsody, which does not come to life until the final curtain, but is well worth waiting for. In fact, one might say that this particular number is worth the price of the ticket as it is ten plus glorious moments of powerful energy and great vocals.
The story takes place in a time in the future , on a planet called I-Planet and musical instruments have been banned. The only music is that which is “uploaded” as this is the world of computer technology. The world as we knew it is now controlled by a company, and globalization is complete. There are no individuals and no one is allowed to think for themselves. The “dreamer”,Galileo is different from the others. He hears words and sounds ( that of course are words from songs of our times) and he takes on the quest of escaping to find “the Holy Grail” which in this case is the last electric guitar. Galileo ( a fiery Brian Justin Crum) finds his match, Scaramouche ( the vivacious Ruby Lewis who has an incredible vocal range) and together they find the”Bohemians” with the guidance of Brit (deftly handled by Jared Zirilli) and Oz ( the dynamic Erica Peck).
The entire cast is strong and every member of the ensemble brings great energy to a fairly long musical- about 2 1/2 hours with intermission-Ryan Knowles is a standout as Buddy, an old “hippie” type who hangs out with others at the last remaining Hard Rock Cafe, now a hidden museum of treasures represnting Rock and Roll.The musicians, who are onstage and in full view for parts of the play are wonderful and never do we the audience , find them overbearing or upstaging the performers on the stage. This is probably where credit to the sound people should be given(Bobby Aitken). The lighting (Willie Williams) is bright and in some spots a little blinding to those who are seated in the first 10-12 rows, center. The costumes are very bright and glitzy as well as sexy(Tim Goodchild) and the set itself(Mark Fisher) one that draws our immediate attention. There are, as in most “rock” musicals video projections used and handled by Messrs.Fisher and Williams.
This is a well done show considering the weakness of the actual script . The music outweighs the hokey script and the ensemble makes it all worthwhile. Could it be cut a bit? I am sure it could, but then where would it be? You cannot cut out the tribute that they pay to all the “Rock and Roll” legends who have left us, or of course the finale and the encore, so just bite the bullet and know that for 2 1/2 hours you will be entertained and hear some great music and some funny lines. You only have until the end of the week, Sunday the 27th to catch it with performances as follows:
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
You can purchase tickets ( range from $18- $85) at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 800-775-2000, at any Ticketmaster outlet or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com
The performances are at The Cadillac Palace Theatre located at 181 West Randolph Street ( between LaSalle and Wells) easy to get to by public transportation,
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “We Will Rock You”
For more info on the tour, visit www.wewillrockyou.com