The pre-show announcement for “We Will Rock You” says it all – “…it’s live and it’s loud…”. Arguably one of the most well known anthems of a generation, the title song, and the music of Queen, come to life in an energetic homage to one of the best selling bands in music history. WWRY, as it’s come to be known, is now playing through Sunday at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, and it will rock your socks off.
WWRY is now in its 11th year in London and plays just about everywhere – except Broadway - worldwide. It’s the ultimate cover band show, featuring 24 hit songs out of Queen’s monumental, innovative discography. This touring cover band hits most all of the right notes.
Buddy (Ryan Knowles) at the Hard Rock
In order for WWRY to be something more than a concert you gotta have a story to weave all the music together. So, someone evidently said to British comedian, Ben Elton, “…c’mon, lets write some stuff to set up these great songs…”. And he did, and lean as it is, it serves its purpose well and is rather funny at times. As is the case with many stage musicals over the years, the script is secondary to the music. And that’s definitely the case here. (To his credit, Elton updates the show as it ages and this production is no exception with references now to Justin Beiber, Lady GaGa, Britney, Miley, American Idol and others, folded in now).
WWRY is set in an Orwellian future devoid of all personality. We’ve become digital automatons on an “iPlanet” world run by Globalsoft Corporation with URLs as names - robotic drones living in an online world. Cue the young, rebellious Bohemians who want change by bringing back the music that’s been banned (sound familiar Hippies, Gen Xer’s and Millennials) starting their journey in, of all places, a shell of a Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas. But they persevere. They ban together, they get it together, they take it on the road, finally figuring it all out at Graceland, ultimately taking down the corporate gods and saving the world with music. End of story. That’s why we love rock and roll.
Back to Front: Buddy (Ryan Knowles), Galileo (B.J. Crum), Scaramouche (Ruby Lewis)
The cast is led by Brian Justin Crum as Galileo, and Ruby Lewis as Sacramouche who make their statement with terrific singing. Their duet of “Who Wants to Live Forever” was sensational – as was Lewis’ turn rocking out “Somebody To Love”. For Crum’s part, he saves the best to last with a great lead on the show’s title song and segue into “We Are The Champions”. Ryan Knowles as Buddy and P.J. Griffith as the David Bowiesque Khashoggi brought out musical winners with “These are the Days of Our Lives” and “Seven Seas of Rhye” respectively.
(L-R) Scaramouche, Galileo, Oz (Erica Peck), Brit (Jared Zarilli)
Jessica Crouch as Killer Queen seemed off a bit the entire evening – too bad for such a huge part in the show, carrying the weight of some major, recognizable songs. Unfortunately, her lower range was difficult to pick up in every song, making some of the great riffs in “Killer Queen”, “Fat Bottomed Girls” and the classic “Another One Bites The Dust” come off as weak and mousey. I don’t know if it was just an off night or a bad microphone or mic mix – but I know there’s a better voice inside that body than what we got to hear.
And speaking of bad tech…what’s the deal with not being able to get a good mix between the vocals and the driving, loud music of Queen. C’mon sound crew, it’s called audio mixing for a reason – let us hear both.
All in all, “We Will Rock You” is all about the music. The crowd was rockin’ and on their feet at the end of the show. A standing ovation? Not so much. It’s more of a well earned show of respect and reverence for a band that has left a deep and indelible mark on the history of rock and roll. Go see the show for its music and fun nostalgia - you won’t be disappointed.
“WWRY” runs through Sunday at the Arsht Center. Tickets are available at the box office or online at www.arshtcenter.org.
Over the last 25 years, WIOD reporter/anchor Ed Goodman has reviewed and interviewed players from both professional and amateur theatre, music and dance companies from St Louis to South Florida. Ed earned a degree in Theatre Arts and has performed and directed in professional, and high-end amateur theatrical companies.