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Stadium-sturdy songs trump paper thin
story during Queen-centered musical

"We Will Rock You"
Cadillac Palace Theatre
Chicago, IL
October 22, 2013
We Will Rock You We Will Rock You

Story by Andy Argyrakis
Promotional photos by Paul Kolnik

The best jukebox musicals are the ones that either tell fascinating autobiographical tales (like The Four Seasons-themed "Jersey Boys") or frame a fitting fictional story around a celebrated act's body of work (such as the ABBA-centered "Mamma Mia)." Though Queen's "We Will Rock You" falls closer to the latter, split between the band's greatest hits and a few less familiar fan favorites, the plot is so paper thin that it's practically laughable.

Sure, there are plenty of intended tongue-in-cheek elements considering its set several hundred years into the future on iPlanet (an impersonal, homogeneous, internet-centered society where instruments are banned and rock music doesn't exist), but this brilliant body of songs could've certainly been better served. For starters, Queen purists may take issue with the fact that several lyrics are changed to fit many highly manufactured scenarios, like "Radio Ga Ga" sometimes becoming "Internet Ga Ga," not to mention the fact that so little of the story actually makes sense.

While it's only natural to find rebel Bohemian rockers like Galileo (Brian Justin Crum) and Scaramouche (Ruby Lewis) making an impassioned plea for the reinstation of music through smash songs like "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," it's absolutely dumbfounding why enemies like the Globalsoft Corporation's Killer Queen (Jacqueline Arnold) spend so much time singing when they're dead set against it in the first place. Even worse is that bad gal character's dancer-adorned solo "Fat Bottomed Girls," which feels unbelievably forced as an obligatory hit lacking any plot advancement purpose whatsoever.

For those who can get past the script's many flaws, at least "We Will Rock You" still contains several musical gems performed by a top notch touring cast that energetically recreates the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers' vastly varied catalogue. Along with an eight piece band that forsakes the orchestra pit for the stage's second level, fans are sure to devour "Somebody To Love," "Under Pressure," "Another One Bites The Dust," "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions," while also laughing along to countless pop culture references spanning VHS tapes to twerking.

Oddly enough, references to "Bohemian Rhapsody" turn up repeatedly throughout the over two hour endeavor, but the entire song never actually appears in the scripted part of the performance. Instead, it's relegated to a post-curtain call encore that simply finds the cast (essentially out of character as feuding Bohemians and Globalsoft employees) collectively singing the bombastic ballad, while attendees who haven't already left the theatre sway from side to side. Indeed, it's those types of powerful performances that save "We Will Rock You" from being a total loss, though the experience would've probably worked much better as a straightforward tribute concert (a role currently filled by The Queen Extravaganza) than a ill-conceived musical without much of a compass.

"We Will Rock You" continues at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through October 27. For additional details, visit and

We Will Rock You

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