Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Killer Queens

Live: We Will Rock You (Jukebox Musical)
Dominion Theatre, London, UK

On the last night of a recent trip to London my mum, brother and I enjoyed a performance of the jukebox musical We Will Rock You.

My bro’ and I have wildly different musical tastes. He doesn’t share my love of alternative and leftfield music, instead being a connoisseur of
West End shows. A talented singer and actor, he has performed lead roles in a variety of musicals himself, from West Side Story to Oliver!

I’m not as big a fan as my brother, but I enjoy the surreal aspects of musicals. In Jesus Christ Superstar, my bro' played the Messiah himself; surreal isn't the word when it comes to watching your sibling being crucified on stage.

We Will Rock You is of course based around the songs of Queen. For Britons Queen are a national institution rather than a band. I remember the groundbreaking Bohemian Rhapsody video dominating the airwaves for weeks back in '74. Suddenly everyone in Britain was a Queen fan. They took studio wizardry to its greatest heights since The Beatles and Pink Floyd, featured not one but four talented songwriters and were a staggering live act to boot.

I have to admit the storyline of We Will Rock You is flimsy at best – in a dystopian future originality and individuality are outlawed by the Killer Queen, and our hero Galileo fulfils a prophecy which heralds the return of rock 'n roll - echoes of Rush’s 2112 and Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage.

But the production has everything you’d expect from a West End musical: great songs (courtesy of Queen’s formidable back-catalog, of course), marvelous costumes, fabulous sets, a mind-boggling array of gimmicks and special effects including lasers, levitating platforms and computer effects. The show pokes gentle fun at rock cliches and there are some hilarious quips about boy bands and pop idols. One could feel the affection in the audience for Queen as kitsch icons, and especially for the long departed Freddie Mercury.

Since my family and I live on opposite sides of the world, moments together are precious, and we had a marvellous time. As my mum knows, each of her two boys enjoys his own showbiz fantasies. I’ve played my share of Brian May air guitar solos in my time, and I know my brother - an incorrigible ham - was visualizing himself on stage, singing his heart out, soaking up the adulation then signing autographs for his adoring fans at the Stage Door.


Palm Springs Savant said...

WWRY is an amazing show! I am a bit of an Anglophile..used to live in London. Used to see the drag show with Regina Fong at the Black Cap and Vauxhall Tavern every week...such good fun.

stop by and say hi sometime

Cushion Meg said...

Hi shiffi, glad to see your new postings! Very enjoyable as always. Sounds you had a great vacation with your family in England! I won’t fail to see “WWRY” when I visit London next time, probably in the foreseeable future. A nice picture of your dad! He really looks like someone I know. :D

Romper Stomper said...

Hey Shiffi! Your back! I missed you. Glad you had a good time in jolly old England.