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The sci-fi dystopian jukebox musical inspired by Queen’s music premieres in Manila

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A NEW and re-imagined production of playwright, lyricist, and comedian Ben Elton’s 2002 Queen musical opens as the first international production at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Circuit Makati.

A jukebox musical based on the songs of British rock band Queen, We Will Rock You follows two rebels, Galileo Figaro and Scaramouche, as they try to save rock ‘n’ roll music. They join a group of Bohemians who struggle to restore the free exchange of thought and fashion, and live music in a post-apocalyptic world where everyone dresses, thinks, and acts alike.

The musical features 24 of Queen’s biggest hits, including “Killer Queen,” “Under Pressure,” “We Are the Champions,” “Radio Ga Ga,” “I Want to Break Free,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “We Will Rock You.”

The creative team for this production includes set designer Tom Rogers, with video backdrop by Douglas O’Connell, and costume design by Sarah Mercade.

In the show, Stuart Brown and Nicolette Fernandes play Galileo Figaro and Scaramouche, respectively. Their characters’ names are taken from Queen’s six-minute opus, “Bohemian Rapsody.”

“We, in our discovery, have realized that our characters are reincarnations of Freddie Mercury and Brian May. Our costumes are tributed to them, and we take inspiration from them,” Ms. Fernandes told members of the press during a media visit on Nov. 2 which preceded the show’s gala.

“The story is about the reclamation and rediscovery of freedom of speech and expression. It sits in the future, in an Orwellian world where this company is controlling everything. It controls all the music. All it produces is electronic pop music and it stops people from being able to play live rock music,” Mr. Stuart said

“Galileo and Scaramouche are on this journey to free it and discover it again and free everybody from control,” he added.

“I think — especially coming out of COVID-19 and us being all virtual and everything being so electronic — I think it’s great to be able to show that what’s really important is passion, and love, and connection. I think that’s what really our story is about,” Ms. Fernandes added.

A SCI-FI VISUAL FEASTThe set design and visuals take inspiration from the science fiction aesthetic. In an interview published in the show’s program booklet, the musical’s original director and choreographer Nick Winston said that his approach to the production was inspired by his obsession with science fiction and dystopian material such as Star Wars, Blade Runner, Mad Max, and The Hunger Games.

Mr. Winston also stated that the story resonates more today as the world grows more like that of George Orwell’s 1984. The musical’s story includes themes of totalitarianism, environmental destruction, survival, technological control, and loss of individualism.

“And you thought you’d come to watch a jukebox musical,” Mr. Winston said.

“It’s not your traditional theater that you would go to. We’re going to get a new generation of audiences coming in [and it’s] visually exciting for them,” resident director and choreographer Darren Greeff said.

“They are going to come for different reasons [even if they] don’t know the music. Of course, Queen’s music is iconic. They are going to come for all the reasons and it will be a full cycle of falling in love with the music all over again,” he said.

After its premiere in Manila, the production will tour Singapore in January 2023 and New Zealand in June 2023.

We Will Rock You runs until Nov. 20 at the Samsung Performing Arts Theatre in Circuit Makati, with performances at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays to Fridays, and 1 and 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For tickets, visit ticketworld.com.ph, call 8891-9999, or contact groups@gmg-productions.com for group and corporate bookings. Special ticket prices are offered for Tuesday performances. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman