Those who come to the musical “We Will Rock You,” which opens June 17 at Juliet’s Bicentennial Park Theater, will hear plenty of their favorite Queen songs, including, of course, the song “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Show timings are at 7 pm on Friday and Saturday and at 2 pm. Sunday 17-26 June.
But the musical is not a biography of Queen leader Freddie Mercury. “It’s not ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at all,” director Lori Carmine said, referring to the film that traces Mercury’s life.
“We’ll rock you,” Carmine said, “is a fairy tale in which the Queen’s music is used to advance the plot.” It takes place in the year 2330. The assumption is that artificial intelligence has taken over the entire planet and the music must be processed through a computer. There are no more musical instruments in the world.”
Carmine, who is also Juliet’s director of cultural affairs, said the musical is celebrating its 20th anniversary. “It was written in 2002 and started in London where they are doing a revival this year,” she said.
While working as a stage performer at Juliet’s Rialto Theater a few years ago, she helped on the “We Will Rock You” national tour. “Everyone loved this show,” Carmine said. “That’s why I decided to do it at the Bicentennial Theatre.
“The musical has a story with a story and an epilogue,” she said. “But there is a lot of singing and dancing,” she said, adding that the 30-plus cast has plenty of opportunities to sing in the rich harmony that Queen is known for.
The musical, which will include a live pit orchestra, features an underground group called the Bohemians, who are searching for the person who will bring rock and roll back to the planet. A high school student named Galileo and a high school girl named Scaramush show signs of rebellion over the way the planet is run.
The government, residing in Ga Ga Land along with people who have the same opinions and dress the same way, is trying to brainwash the young people to extract independent ideas from their heads. They escape and meet bohemians who live in a hotel and try to compose new music and build musical instruments.
The Queen’s music is used to enhance the plot, for example, when Scaramush and Galileo meet the Bohemians, they sing “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”.
Mark Ebling provides vocal direction and conducts the orchestra, while Laurie Bowen provides choreography.
Carmine’s daughter, Ilana Carmine, who studies fashion design in college, is working on costumes for production.
Matchers living in Ga Ga Land will have shiny, clean matching outfits with delicate, sculpted hair. Bohemians wear whatever they find in the wild as they search for pieces of rock ‘n’ roll history. They would wear bell bottoms, mesh stockings, or other clothing that people wore during the rock ‘n’ roll era of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.
The theater will have a ramp that breaks down what the directors call the fourth wall in the theatre, where the audience is seated. “We wanted to make it look like a prom,” Carmine said. “The audience should feel very immersed in it. We will go into the audience and address the audience and sometimes interact with them.”
Carmine admitted that directing a musical with a large staff required a lot of work. “But the reward will be very interesting,” she said.
We are a community center and it is for the community so everyone has a role to play. Some will be on stage for the first time. They can learn from people who have more experience, and get their feet wet. Maybe it’s a mental break or something fun or something they want to continue with later.”
Carmine said the story lines touch on the idea of having a lot of technology rather than being your own person. “That’s one of the big lessons,” she said.
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Carmine promises those who come “definitely going to have a good time. It will take your mind off all the current situations. Plus it’s the Queen’s music. I can’t imagine anyone not loving the Queen.”
‘we will Rock You’
When: June 17-26
where: Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park Indoor Theater, 201 W. Jefferson Street, Joliet
the tickets: $10 – $15
Information: 815-724-3761, Bicentennialpark.org
Sheryl Defour is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.