You Gotta Let it All Hang Out

A musical based on the songs of Queen? Sign me up. And if We Will Rock You doesn’t sound like the worst idea for a musical ever…well, it is. Yet it works, almost in spite of itself. I won’t even bother analyzing it, because it would be a pointless exercise. The plot (such as it is) exists solely as an excuse to string together one Queen hit after another. The characters, with the exception of the two leads (more on them in a second), are completely subservient to the music (see, for instance, the evil Killer Queen…hey, cue “Killer Queen”!). In fact, We Will Rock You barely warrants being called a musical at all: it’s really a revue-cum-concert, replete with stadium lighting and enough amplification to wake Freddie Mercury from the dead. There are also enough rock n’ roll references–most of them delivered with the subtlety of a power ballad–to keep the audience giggling.

The cast, meanwhile, delivers Queen’s musical with suitable aplomb. As the two leads, Yvan Pedneault (surely the greatest French-Canadian Freddie Mercury impersonator ever?) and Erica Peck are major discoveries and take turns stealing the show from one another; it’s debatable who ends up winning, although Pedneault’s show-closing star turn is something to behold. Sterling Jarvis, meanwhile, does a commendable job as a black man in a kilt named…uh, Britney. The funny thing is, that all makes sense within the context of the show–and that really says everything you need to know. Queen was never meant to be enjoyed on anything other than a grandiose scale, and on that front We Will Rock You is a tremendous success. The usual components of a good musical might not be present and accounted for, but by God you will be entertained. I think Freddie Mercury would be proud.

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One thought on “You Gotta Let it All Hang Out

  1. sweet mercy, i feel dumber for just reading about that show. i didn’t realize they actually strung together a plot for it — i thought it was just a straight-forward revue. there’s actually a ‘killer queen’ character?

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