Thursday, September 20, 2007


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...


Anonymous said...

I personally love when you are negative!

Anonymous said...

As the mentioned 'pal' in the piece, let me remind the dear MOAM readers that perhaps ALL is not lost. For every Mirvish fiasco, WWRY, LORD (Help Us) OF THE RINGS, there is an ELEGIES (produced by ACTING UPSTAGE, a company whose shows and pedigree deserve it audiences far beyond the teeny-tiny houses they play and fill, seek out A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE later this season), there is an EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL (Meta-- sure, but Meta done right), and dozens of other deserving LITTLE companies producing LITTLE shows that offer BIG bang for the buck. Check out the aspiring triple threats of the Randolph Young Company and the Toronto Youth Theatre and be assured that there is hope for the future of Toronto theatre. But not until the audience starts to be DISCERNING in its choices and in its immediate 'rise to your feet' mentality. Just because you paid 70, 80, 100 bucks for your ticket, doesn't mean what you're getting is necessarily good. What happened to EARNING a standing 'o'? Keep your seats, Toronto theatre-goers, and let the big guns trotting 'entertainment' to our lauded-as-a-theatre-capital city know that we ain't gonna stand for it!

Not Afraid to Use It said...

I love me a good musical, but thank you for warning me about this one! I have limited time to see films bc of the kids. I will definitely bypass this one for the time being.

Anonymous said...

you really captured the essence of this one, maven girl. but why you failed to mention the role of said hero's french canadian accent, boggles my mind. a character in and of itself that deserves equal attack and glory.

Mother of all Mavens said...

Aaaah le Canadian Francais. Yes, I did forget that. Or maybe I blocked it out. needless to say the accent got stronger as the play draaaaaaaagged on. Go figure. Apparently he doesn't speak any Anglaisy, just learned the words he needed. Can you tell?!