Singing Queen’s music to save the world

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ZEUS MARTINEZ PHOTOGRAPHY

Theater ReviewWe Will Rock YouPresented by GMG ProductionsOngoing until Nov. 20, with Tuesday to Fridayperformances at 8 p.m., and Saturday andSunday shows at 1 and 7 p.m.Samsung Performing Arts Theatre in Circuit Makati

IN A WORLD where live music and self-expression are non-existent, a group of free thinkers fights back. That is the gist of the jukebox musical We Will Rock You, which uses thesongs of British rock band Queen to tell the tale.

The musical follows Galileo Figaro and Scaramouche, along with a group called Bohemians, who struggle to restore the free exchange of thought and fashion, and live music in a post-apocalyptic world.

In keeping with the show’s sci-fi theme, entering the Samsung Performing Arts Theatre in Circuit Makati felt like boarding a spacecraft. The images and text flashed on the screen onstage — which looked like the computer screens from the Terminator movies — setting the tone of the show.

The musical opens to an exterior scene of a rainy evening in an urban city lit with neon lights, reminiscent of Blade Runner 2049. The earth is now named the iPlanet and is controlled by Globalsoft Corporation — the same company that generates all content consumed by the population. Globalsoft’s operations are practically summed up in a modified and techno rendition of “Radio Gaga.” The production’s set design in this scene — with workers covered from head to toe in white uniforms — transports the audience to a futuristic spacecraft-like office space. The modified version of “Radio Gaga” is catchy and engaging, and its lyrics are also eerily accurate to current advancements in technology.

The audience is introduced to Galileo Figaro (Stuart Brown), a student who aspires to “break free” and create original music. He pulls out a notebook full of lines and song lyrics from western pop culture — hilarious references ranging from The Beatles songs to Kelis’ “Milkshake” — ideas which he says he encounters in his dreams.

Unable to defend his ideas, Galileo is held captive in a hospital where he meets a goth woman whom he names “Scaramouche” (Nicolette Fernandes).

Elsewhere on the iPlanet live the Bohemians who have settled in the hidden remains of the Heartbreak Hotel — the last place where freedom of expression is welcome. The design of the Heartbreak Hotel includes remnants of past civilization and equipment that is now considered antiques such as television sets and video tape players.

When Galileo and Scaramouche escape the hospital, they meet Bohemians Brit (Richard Gay) and Oz (Danelle Cronje) who welcome them to the Heartbreak Hotel. While there they meet someone who tells them about a prophecy of a dreamer who will save the world.

Unfortunately, everyone is captured by the head of police Khashoggi (Craig Urbani).

The second act focuses on the Bohemians’ taking clues from an old video tape about a prophecy of their freedom in which Galileo travels to the now abandoned Wembley Stadium.

It was interesting to watch the legendary rock band’s songs interpreted in a dystopian science fiction story. There were also references to George Orwell’s 1984 with flashes of a poster saying “Globalsoft is watching you,” and the themes of related to thought crime, and the banning of self-expression and individualism.

Tom Rogers’ futuristic set design suggests Star Wars, Blade Runner, Tron: Legacy, and Mad Max. The moving backdrop makes the audience feel like they are in a video game.

Inasmuch as the songs in the final sequence were enjoyable, I found the ending underwhelming. I expected that Galileo, Scaramouche, and the Bohemians would end up in an ensemble protest to defeat the Killer Queen (Londiwe Dhlomo).

But just when you think that the show is over, the theater becomes an energetic concert hall as the cast returns for an encore performance. And don’t worry, no one will police you for singing along. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

For tickets to We Will Rock You, visit ticketworld.com.ph, call 8891-9999, or contact groups@gmg-productions.com for group and corporate bookings. Special ticket prices are offered on Tuesday performances.

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