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Queen musical ‘We Will Rock You’ to reign over Columbus

A scene from ‘We Will Rock You.’ The  musical is set to run at Palace Theatre from Jan. 7-12.  Credit:  Courtesy of Rolanda Copley

A scene from ‘We Will Rock You.’ The musical is set to run at Palace Theatre from Jan. 7-12.
Credit: Courtesy of Rolanda Copley

Rock royalty is about to be revived in Columbus.

The multi-award-winning musical “We Will Rock You” is scheduled to make its grand entrance Tuesday at the Palace Theatre, toting along the hits of rock band Queen during the show’s six-day reign.

The musical, which is making its Columbus debut, imagines a futuristic world where creativity is outlawed and individuals are labelled by ID and number. A group of rebel Bohemians hope to break the conformity by seeking a hero who will ultimately assist them in bringing the power of rock back to the world.

Although Queen saw its heydays in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the power of the band’s music is preserved in the show with the help of Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor as musical supervisors for the show. The spirit of former frontman, the late Freddie Mercury, is also maintained, said Jennifer Noble, a member of the ensemble in the Columbus production of “We Will Rock You.”

“We just keep (Mercury’s) spirit alive by the songs, the rebel, move-at-the-beat-of-your-own-drum kind of show,” Noble said. “His mom actually came to see the show in London. She said he was a big comedy fan and he would have loved the show.”

References to Queen’s music are not isolated to the songs performed, though. The show’s characters take their names straight from the lyrics. For example, Noble also plays understudy to the character of Scaramouche, borrowed directly from the operatic chorus of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Her role in the Columbus production, on the other hand, is as a rebel Bohemian named Mick Jagger, a nod to the lead singer in The Rolling Stones.

“One thing I love about the show is we get to update it,” Noble said. “The show’s been running for 12 years, so the writers and Brian and Roger have been great about updating it for the time and for the area in which the show is being performed. So we do have a lot of references to pop culture and, you know, rock ‘n’ roll.”

The musical’s score, however, not only nods to Queen’s discography in its prime, including “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Under Pressure” and “Killer Queen,” but also features some music the remaining three members wrote following Mercury’s death in 1991, Noble said.

“Most of the lyrics are still intact. We kind of adjust it to our show, but we do sing ‘No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young),’ which was written by Brian May after Freddie’s death,” Noble said. “These are songs some people might not recognize at first being a Queen hit … but it’s one of the most beautiful numbers in the show.”

Noble also said the theatrics of Queen’s songs make the transition from rock n’ roll to stage easy, and it is the production of its music she believes the musical celebrates.

“There’s this thing floating around the Internet, it was of couple of months ago, but it was saying it took one person to write ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ but it took seven or eight to write a Justin Bieber song. I think that’s what we are kind of getting at. (Queen’s music is) kind of this lost art of creativity and originality,” Noble said.

Chris Radebaugh, a second-year in computer and information science, agreed.

“I think a musical would be a good outlet for Queen because the vocals and arrangements are so over-the-top, and dividing it up between various singers and making it even more theatrical would make it just fine,” Radebaugh said.

Dara Katzner, a third-year in early childhood education, said she would go see the musical.

“I definitely would (go see it) because Queen was one of my dad’s favorite bands, so I grew up listening to them. And I love musicals,” Katzner said.

“We Will Rock You” opens Tuesday and runs through Sunday. The Palace Theatre is located at 34 W. Broad St. Tickets start at $28 and can be purchased through the CAPA Ticket Center at 39 E. State St. and Ticketmaster.

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