"We Will Rock You", the new musical based on Queen's greatest hits, brightens the lights on the Las Vegas Strip.

Reviewed 9/5,7,10,11,12, 2004.
By Gabrielle Kielich

He may start out as just a poor boy who nobody loves, but everybody eventually gets a break. Galileo Figaro (Tony Vincent/Jason Wooten) is the confused and misunderstood rebel kid who, led by his dreams, believes his purpose is to save rock music from the hands of the GlobalSoft Corporation.

Fast forward 300 years: the world is now Planet Mall, where music is manufactured and instruments banned. Everything is safe, happy, and utterly GaGa, just the way the Killer Queen wants it to remain. Rumors lurk about one instrument still in existence-a mighty axe-and of a bohemian rebel searching to unleash it.

When Galileo is arrested, he meets a rebel chick, Scaramouche (Aspen Miller/Kacie Sheik), also being detained for failing to conform to the GaGa norm. After the two break out, they become aware that the desire to save rock is not theirs alone.

The Heartbreak Hotel is home to the Bohemians: an underground society of scavenger rebels who seek to understand the lost world of rock and roll. Humorously referencing both classic rock and the pop culture of the 21st century, the Bohemians take their names from some of the greats (and not so greats): Jackson Five, Aretha Franklin, P. Puff Diddy Daddy, and even a fishnet-clad Clay Aiken.

Led by an intimidating black male Bohemian named Britney Spears (Ty Taylor) and his girlfriend, Ozzy Osbourne (Carly Thomas), the Bohemians discover that, based on his ability to recite the 'sacred texts' without ever seeing them, Galileo is, in fact, the Dreamer they always knew would surface to save rock.

After the Heartbreak Hotel is raided and only Galileo and Scaramouche escape a trip into exile to the Seven Seas of Rhye, Galileo makes it his mission to find the mighty axe and recover the other Bohemians.

'We Will Rock You', playing indefinitely at Le Theatre Des Arts at the Paris Las Vegas is basically a rock concert with dialogue interspersed. Yet, that is no attempt to downplay the story line, which is at the same time hilarious and heartfelt. Taking stabs at the shallow state of today's music scene as well as cleverly referencing music from decades past, the show presents an idea that, due to increased media consolidation, may not be that far a stretch from what reality could become.

A witty commentary aside, the show also centers around the love story of two misfit Virtual High graduates, both trying to understand who they are and finding each other in the process. Though not without endless bickering, of course.

Making its debut in London's West End in May 2002 (with Vincent originating the role of Galileo), the Vegas version has undoubtedly been scaled down and altered for American audiences. Changing references from London's Wembley Arena to Graceland, and proclaiming Vegas as the place where 'Rock stars don't die, they just fade away!', the show is very aware of what city it is playing in.

Downsizing from nearly three hours, the new version runs just under 120 minutes and without intermission. Many of the songs have been understandably shortened, though the choice of which songs to shorten seems a bit odd ('Under Pressure' as opposed to 'A Kind of Magic'?). The lack of verses is compensated for in the vocal delivery. Highlights include 'I Want To Break Free', Galileo's first major song, with Vincent presenting a vocal range (and the perfect use of character-acting facial expressions) that Freddie Mercury would have been proud of, and 'You're My Best Friend, presented acoustically, where Galileo and Scaramouche share their feelings for each other.

Patti Russo's interpretation of Killer Queen is impressive: dictatorial, yet just likable enough, playing well off of Rich Hebert's smarmy character, Commander Khashoggi, the head cop at GlobalSoft.

Ty Taylor shines as Britney, delivering a goose-bump-inducing performance of 'I Want It All' with Ozzy. The only real disappointment is Carly Thomas' rendition of 'No One But You', which fails to move the audience as much as it should, considering it is a centerpiece of the musical.

Both Aspen Miller and Kacie Sheik present a feisty Scaramouche and boast voices worthy enough to sing the vocally demanding 'Somebody To Love.'

A true crowd pleaser is the character of Pop (Douglas Crawford), the bartender and Galileo's rock and roll informant, whose thighs and one-liners keep the audience glued. His version of 'These Are The Days Of Our Lives' is warm and soulful, unlike the bar Pop works in.

Tony Vincent (Jason Wooten did not perform in the shows reviewed) is the image of what Galileo should be: the requisite tall, skinny frame, complete with black floppy bangs and tattoos, and a purposely altered speaking voice to give the impression of a young, stuttering teenager. Vocally, Vincent was born for this role, having carried it for 18 months in London. His command of the character is unmistakable, never missing a beat through Galileo's journey from a naive, spastic dreamer to an all out rock star. Easily the best new show on the Strip, 'We Will Rock You' is not only for Queen fans, but for anybody with a love of rock and roll. While some of the references may be lost on those not appreciative or aware of the rock and roll culture (i.e. an 'axe' is a guitar; roadie/groupie humor), writer Ben Elton's endless wit will make up for any lack of understanding.

So when Galileo asks People, are you ready to reclaim rock?' make sure you answer a resounding 'Yes.'