There’s no other four words in rock music that carry as much weight as “We Will Rock You,” the foot-stomping anthem issued by Freddie Mercury. The musical by the name same celebrates the music of Queen and takes a unique approach to the role music plays in defining us as individuals.
“We Will Rock You” is staged Nov. 3 at The Florida Theatre (www.floridatheatre.com).“It’s completely iconic. A lot of the music “We Are the Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” there is a lot of weight in that music for sure,” says cast member Karina Cox, who plays Aretha in the ensemble and is the understudy to the female lead Scaramouche.
“The music is already so inherently theatrical, which is why I think it lends itself so well to a musical.” It fits so seamlessly with this art form.”
“We Will Rock You” is an interesting concept. It’s more than a dramatic performance of Queen music, though Roger Taylor and Brian May serve as advisors so the music does take center stage. The jukebox musical relies on the music to tell a different story, in this case a futuristic dystopian universe in which everything is distilled by computerization. The robotic population is restricted from experiencing “real” music.
Galileo and Scaramouche are two revolutionaries on a quest to save rock n’ roll in this post-apocalyptic world where there are no musical instruments and rock n’ roll has died. The pair join a small group of societal outcasts called the Bohemians in a bid to take back the iPlanet from the all-powerful Globalsoft, led by the Killer Queen. They fight for freedom, individuality and the rebirth of rock n roll.
“Everybody looks the same. They don’t even know what rock ‘n roll music really is. It’s been washed and it’s something the upper powers have tried to protect from the people because they think rock ‘n roll music is rebellious and people will kind of turn away from them and become individuals which they don’t want,” says Cox, whose character is a rebel named for Aretha Franklin. In fact, the names of all of the ensemble cast reflects iconic artists like Buddy Holly, Jackson 5, Mick Jagger, Oz after Ozzy Osborne. “They’ve heard of them and seen pictures but they’ve never heard the music.
“It follows these two rebels who then eventually find other rock ‘n roll rebels and restore rock music. It’s a really hilarious, fun story with lots of pop culture references. It’s relatable so even if you don’t know Queen music, it’s a really palatable way for you to get on board with Queen music,” says Cox. “It’s fun and funky and super positive.”
Riding the wave of the successful film Bohemian Rhapsody, audiences have shifted to include younger demographic. “When the movie came out, there’s been just this big resurgence of Queen fans, myself included. We have young kids all the way through all the ages. It’s pretty amazing how their music is still timeless. It doesn’t matter if you were even alive when they were performing. It still translates to everyone.”
The show is structured around 24 of Queen’s most recognizable hits including “We Are the Champions,” “Radio Ga Ga,” “I Want To Break Free,” “Somebody To Love,” “Killer Queen,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Under Pressure,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Another One Bites The Dust” and, of course, “We Will Rock You.” to move the action on stage. “I Want to Break Free” portrays life stuck in a high school where everyone looks the same and the song talks about how they want to leave. “I think most of the songs are placed very smartly though some are a bit of a stretch. It’s like you just wanted to use that song there but nobody minds because it’s a great song,” says Cox.
At the close of the show, the musical evolves into a larger-than-life concert event featuring the pinnacle of Queen hits. No matter how reserved the audience, Cox says by the end of the night, everyone is swept up in the music and magic of Queen. “Even if they didn’t like the show, they love the end. Their hands are in the air and use the flashlights on their phone to wave it in the air. Everyone is invested and the only thing you can really ask as an artist is that people are invested in what you’re doing. This show is just fool-proof. By the end, everyone is in.”