The British band Queen who made a massive comeback with the Oscar-nominated film “Bohemian Rhapsody,” continues its resurgence locally as the Palos Verdes Performing Arts Conservatory opens "We Will Rock You" this weekend.
The PVPAC student production at the Norris Theatre is one of the first in the area, as the musical was just released for amateur licensing.
“We Will Rock You” is a jukebox-style musical that takes place 300 years into the future. It's a post apocalyptic world where originality is forbidden. Rock and roll music has yet to be discovered. The only hope for creativity rests with a group of bohemians who fight for individuality and musical freedom.
“I think it’s great for any generation,” said Cassidy Amberg, 17, who plays Scaramouche, one of the Bohemians. “This is music that even I grew up listening to even though it wasn’t cool and hip, I think it’s music that lasts a lifetime. I don't think there's very many people who haven't heard (these songs.)”
The show will feature hit songs such as, “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “We are the Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and of course, “We Will Rock You.”
“It’s a super fun show, it’s very futuristic … There’s a lot of dance numbers and everyone knows the music,” she said. “I’m having a good time.”
It was all a pleasant surprise when Joel Sluyter, Conservatory Director at the Palos Verdes Performing Arts learned that the 2018 movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” would be coming out so close to their student production of “We Will Rock You.”
“We have to come up with all the shows about a year in advance and this one caught my eye because of the Queen music. Who doesn’t love Queen?” Sluyter asked rhetorically. “It was a complete accident. I had to decide way before I even knew about the movie ... it’s kind of crazy.”
But, “timing is everything” he said and the movie helped bridge the generational gap.
“Most of the kids were extremely excited by the musical because of Queen. The movie helped it get popular with the younger generations. They knew the music already so it actually made it easier,” he said “Everyone’s talking about Queen. Queen will always be in style. This generation is falling in love with it and the next generation will too, it’s just something everyone will continue to love.”
“We Will Rock You” is the fifteenth longest-running musical in London's West End history.
Many international productions have followed the original, and “We Will Rock You” has been enjoyed on six continents around the world.
“Queen has held a special part in my life since I as a kid,” said 15 year-old Hayden Kharrazi who plays Galileo. “So, it was a very smooth process when it came to learning the music in the show.”
Even though Queen came out in the 1970’s a majority of the performers were already familiar with their music, said Kharrazi, except for “some little ones who aren’t too familiar.”
“Even before we found out (we were performing “We Will Rock You,”) we listened to Queen constantly, aside from our usual music theatre songs we love to listen to,” he said. “The harmonies are so diverse and difficult you’re always learning something new even if you’ve heard the song over a hundred times—it’s pretty incredible.”
The harmonies singer-songwriter Freddie Mercury was able to nail come as a challenge to the group of teenagers, however as Amberg said, she bought a vocal steamer and is drinking hot tea every night to help take care of her voice since the show is so vocally challenging.
“Everyone right now is kind of on a Queen high which is why so many people are going to want to come see this show and if they do they’re going to really enjoy it,” Kharrazi said.
The 91st Academy Awards is set for Feb. 24 and "Bohemian Rhapsody" is nominated for five awards: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Editing.
Showtimes at The Norris Theatre, located at 27570 Norris Center Drive in Rolling Hills Estates for two weekend performances of “We Will Rock You,” are Feb, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. and Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 23, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 24, at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for youth ages 17 and under and $30 for adults, plus a $7 facility fee on each ticket. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 310-544-0403 or visit palosverdesperformingarts.com.