Disclaimer: I am a musicals person.
No, that's not a type-o. That is an "s" you see before you. Musicals. Stage, screen... wherever there are folks spontaneously breaking out into song to lament a love lost, a home found, and everything in between, you'll find me. Laughing, crying, whatever. I'm in.
Until last night, that is. When I sat through the train wreck known as "We Will Rock You". Rock me? Hardly. This show was a crime scene. A sickening accident that, despite being destructive and brutal, one feels compelled to watch. Hideous, gory and loud loud loud. A concert gone awry, a story gone south and some creators gone bonkers.
My pal and I sat, mouths agape, wondering if what we were watching was for real. Who was the demo? Youngsters? Nostalgists? This hokey farce of a show appealed to neither. Suburbanites on a big night out? Is that who those freaks were with the glo-stix? There were plenty of 'em, whoopin' and screamin' and jumping to their feet. While my theatre directing pal and I, as I said, sat stunned.
First off: volume issues. Volume, as in wa-a-a-a-a-y too loud. How did the stage-diving fogies lapping this shit up stand it? Was it that loud that they didn't even know what they were hearing? Maybe.
Secondly, performances. I know, I know, touring companies, right? Wrong. This was/is a big deal. And is continually extended. Mamma Mia, anybody? I guess Brian May and his pals are laughing their way to the bank on this one. And poor Freddie M must be rolling in his grave. At least make the campiness work!!
It didn't. 'Cuz it was earnie earnesto from beginning to end. Set in the future and - gasp! - all musical instruments are banned. Only one hero - swoon - The Dreamer, can set the kids free so they can rebel and play air guitar and find their soul.
Soul? Not in this show. Spunky heroine? Too nasal. "Show-stopping" diva? Bored off her socks. Baddie who turns good? Hey, he wasn't bad! And our hero? Well, his voice was OK but he's no triple threat. Can you say the word "wooden"? With feeling? Neither could he.
And the list goes on. Mediocre support characters? Earned screams of delight. Lame Britney Spears jokes? Had 'em rolling in the aisles. Breaking into "flash" as skeletons - wow! - flashed on screens? Gasps of approval.
Where the hell were we? Oh yeah, downtown Toronto, where the self-congratulatory Canadian references guaranteed a standing O. Or two. And they got 'em.
You're probably wondering why didn't leave. So was I. But, as I said, it was strangely compelling. Like an open casket. You're totally uncomfortable, but you need to look.
So my fellow Musical-ists. And Queen fans. And subscribers to theatre packages. Go forth and be rocked if you must. But don't say I didn't warn you.
And don't forget to drink. A lot. Maybe that's the secret to its success...