Theatre Review: We Will Rock You
by Suzanne Daub
In a future when everyone dresses, acts, and thinks the same, when musical instruments are banned, when a global software company controls the dystopian world—can music save us?
It’s a heavy premise for a jukebox musical that turns out to be energetic, inspiring, humorous, uplifting, a little cheesy, and a whole lot of foot-stompin’ fun.
Theatre Workshop of Nantucket brings the worldwide hit musical We Will Rock You to its Nantucket stage in Bennett Hall through August 16. The story and script by Ben Elton follows a pair of outcasts as they flee from the the evil corporation GlobalSoft and its enforcers led by Commander Khashoggi. They team up with a group of leather-bodice-and-fishnet-clad Bohemians who are looking for the “lost vibe,” fighting the evil corporation and Killer Queen, and waiting for the appearance of a legendary Dreamer. This Dreamer is prophesied to lead them to the last remaining musical instrument which will restore music and individuality to iPlanet.
The play takes a deep dive into rock & roll, with places and character names that are references to famous rock artists and characters in songs by Queen. Dialog cleverly threads in a wide range of popular song lyrics, adding to the tonguein-cheek humor. Some lyrical adaptation to the music by Queen is done to fit Ben Elton’s story. Superb live music by Issac Foley on guitar, Christopher Fusco on drums, and Music Director Aidan Wells at the keyboard from their visible elevated stage makes this a cross between a rock concert and a musical. It’s hard to resist standing in the aisles and singing along until near the end, when this audience participation is encouraged.
The plot is deliberately light and fun, a mere backdrop. But you’re really here for the music in this TWN production, and the performances and singing of the cast of twenty is excellent.
The vocals of Galileo Figaro (Sean William Fleming), the jittery protagonist with a music tik, and the sassy Scaramouche (Emily Gardenhire) stand out with concert-level quality in solos, with I Want to Break Free and Somebody to Love, duets, and the many ensembles they lead. Rebels Britney & Oz (Alex Deleo and Emily Behny) belt out I Want It All with impressive range and intensity. Behny as Oz singing No One But You sends tingles through the audience. And all four performers are fantastic in Headlong. Colleen O’Brien does a good job as the evil computer-generated-come-to-life villain Killer Queen, and we love Zach Greer who gives a strong performance as Killer Queen’s crony Commander Khashoggi: we’d like to hear more vocals from him. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t comment on Scott Corry’s terrific comedic timing as Buddy.
Justin Cerne’s talented direction keeps the audience interested in the story of We Will Rock You as theatre and not just a concert, guiding his cast with exits and entrances through aisles and energetic action across the stage. Creative and colorful costume design by Casey Boukus helps differentiate and identify the characters, and the choreography by Jennifer Hemphill helps express the story.
Get your tickets today to We Will Rock You and relive or experience for the first time (as did my 10-year-old companion) the excitement and passion of the music of Queen.