Musical embraces the spirit of Queen
By William Loeffler
Published: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, 8:48 p.m.
Freddie Mercury would have loved “We Will Rock You.” The flamboyant lead singer of Queen, who died in 1991, will be there in spirit when the rock theatrical opens Oct. 29 at the Benedum Center.
“These are Queen's greatest hits set into a story in a theatrical context,” says Rick Hip-Flores, musical director and conductor for the show. Hip-Flores will conduct an eight-piece rock band that will accompany the action onstage.
The ensemble includes two percussionists, three keyboard players, two guitarists and a bass player. It takes a lot of musicians to do justice to the complexity of Queen's songs. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites the Dust” are among the 24 in the production.
“ ‘We Will Rock You' is a rock show, but it's not your typical rock show,” Hip-Flores says. “The demands on the chorus are much more than you would find in a rock show. There's much more complex harmonies and four-part harmonies and soprano, alto, tenor and bass. On top of that, the harmonies that Queen uses are not simple major and minor chords. You have to also sort sixth chords and diminished chords and jazz chords. It's your atypical rock show.”
Critics sneered or dismissed Queen during their '70s heyday, but Mercury and Co. were always in on the joke. Hits like “Under Pressure” were delivered with tongue firmly in cheek.
“We Will Rock You” should deliver the same campy humor. The show was created by British comedian and writer Ben Elton, whose credits include television's “Mr. Bean” and the “The Young Ones,” a goofy '80s British sitcom with a rock 'n' roll sensibility and twisted sense of humor.
Keeping true to the band's spirit, Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor are musical supervisors to the show. They had input into the casting of the singers, actors and musicians. Brian Justin Crum and Ruby Lewis star.
“We Will Rock You” is now in its 12th year at the Dominion in London's West End and has toured worldwide.
The show is set in a future dystopia, where the planet is controlled by a single omnipotent corporation. Conformity is the law of the land, with citizens wearing the same clothes, watching the same movies and listening to the same music. That music, by the way, ain't rock 'n' roll — instead, it is generated by the corporation's computers. Musical instruments are banned.
But a rebel group, the Bohemians, are intent on overthrowing this oppressive world order.
Hip-Flores, 33, is more a Broadway music fan than a rock fan. But Queen's music effortlessly combines the two musical genres in a way that wasn't always appreciated during the band's career. Queen borrowed gleefully from heavy metal, music hall, disco and cabaret.
Hip-Flores isn't sure “Bohemian Rhapsody” would make a splash if it were to debut today, given the increasingly short attention span of the digital-music age.
“I don't think anybody would write ‘Bohemian Rhapsody' today and have it be a big hit,” he says. “It doesn't have a big hook. It doesn't have your typical verse-chorus.”
William Loeffler is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Analysis: Kesler remains on Penguins’ radar as Shero looks bring back ‘Big 3’ formula
- Starkey: Steelers know when to say goodbye
- Pirates’ big risk with pitch-heavy draft focus might soon pay off
- Ex-Colts executive Polian: Approach free agency with caution
- SUV flips onto its side on Parkway East
- With so many needs, Steelers can ill afford to miss in draft
- Penguins GM Shero’s deadline deals: Addition by subtraction
- Markleysburg man killed in Fayette County crash
- IUP students have raucous early St. Patrick’s Day celebration
- Pitt rallies in final seconds of regulation en route to OT win at Clemson
- Penguins minor league report: Defenseman Dumoulin optimistic for home stretch