The Barn Theatre keeps this season’s dancing-in-your-seat vibe going with the jukebox musical “We Will Rock You.”
And rock you they will.
This hilarious tribute to individuality and Queen’s power ballads is pure fun.
Every Queen fan knows Freddie Mercury tells a good story. It’s what makes singing along at the top of your lungs extra enjoyable. Writer Ben Elton, assisted by Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, organized these mini-stories into a single narrative that prompts you to get offline and pick up a guitar.
The planet formerly known as Earth is under Globalsoft’s control. Life online is the only life that matters. Killer Queen – a Globalsoft computer program that uploaded herself into her programmer – runs this one-size-fits-all cultural show. Music is programmed, not played, while the brainwashed “Gaga Kids” live in isolated conformity. No one remembers rock music, except one young man.
Galileo Figaro hears fragments of old rock songs in his dreams. He doesn’t know what they mean but is drawn to them. Globalsoft tries to reprogram his mind, but the dreams persist. He escapes with another outcast, a girl he names Scaramouche. They join the Bohemians, a group of rebels who live in an abandoned Hard Rock Café. The Bohemians do the best they can to recover and understand the music they can’t name or remember. They identify Galileo as the “Dreamer”, the one who will fulfill the prophecy and bring rock back to the world. But first, they must find the world’s last musical instrument and overthrow the Killer Queen.
It’s a bizarre plot, but director Brendan Ragotzy’s cast sells it to the back row. Musically, this ensemble has already proven themselves with their beautiful productions of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Buddy.” This time, they make us laugh as well as stomp our feet and clap.
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Leading this madcap musical are apprentices Quinn Moran (Galileo), Dani Apple (Oz), and Chase Gray (Brit), as well as experienced Barnies Samantha Rickard (Scaramouche), Hans Friedrichs (Buddy), Penelope Alex (Killer Queen), and Eric Parker (Khashoggi).
They don’t try to channel Mercury, as much as pay tribute to him, making the songs their own. This is a wise move considering the variety of these pipes. Some of the solos are simply beautiful like “Who Wants to Live Forever” and “No One But You,” while others are just plain awesome like “Another One Bites the Dust” and “I Want It All.”
Musical Director Matt Shalala’s band plays it straight, another wise decision. This is Queen, right down to Cam Taylor playing May’s signature guitar solos. They carry the score with reverence and “Bohemian Rhapsody” is all it should be.
There were some microphone issues opening night, particularly with Alex’s mic, but overwhelmingly it was a rockin’ marriage of instrument and voice.
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Costume Designer Payge Crock deserves a callout. The Globalsoft executives and the Gagas appear severe and stark, with the exception of the literally electric Killer Queen. Meanwhile, the clueless Bohemians wear every stripe of iconic rock rebellion at once, channeling big boppers and punk rockers and pop princesses. They clash fabulously with the Gagas and each other.
Choreographer Jamey Grisham’s work shines best in the ensemble numbers. “Radio Gaga,” “Fat Bottom Girls” and “Seven Seas of Rhye” roll out like rock videos.
“We Will Rock You” is a fun show and if you are a Queen fan it’s a must-see.
“We Will Rock You” plays July 11 through July 23 at the Barn Theatre located at 13351 West M-96 in Augusta. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 5 p.m. The July 19 production will be an American Sign Language interpreted performance. Tickets are $37. Call 269-731-4121 or visit www.barntheatreschool.org for details
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