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Nathan Keen tours Detroit with Queen revue ‘We Will Rock You’

Birmingham's Nathan Keen tours with the cast of "We Will Rock You."
Birmingham's Nathan Keen tours with the cast of "We Will Rock You."
Photo by Paul Kolnik

Premise: if a show contains Queen’s greatest hits, it will be good.

The worldwide smash hit ‘rock theatrical’, “We Will Rock You,” has finally come to Motown, compliments of Broadway in Detroit. The hilarious, multi-award-winning and record-breaking phenomenon created by celebrated British comedian and writer Ben Elton (TV’s “Mr. Bean” and “The Young Ones”) boasts a fantastic score of Queen’s biggest songs including “Another One Bites The Dust”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, “We Are The Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and, of course, “We Will Rock You.”

The show pulls into the Fisher Theatre for April Fools’ Day – for real – and runs through April 13.

To make it even more fun, Birmingham native Nathan Keen is in the cast. We last spoke with Nathan when he was visiting with the national tour of “West Side Story,” and he took time out of a crazy schedule to catch up.

Q) So… please tell us what you’ve been up to since you were touring with West Side Story in 2010?

Nathan Keen: I stayed on the tour of West Side Story for its entire 2 year run as an equity tour, which included performing in Canada, and closing the tour with a 4 week run in Japan!

After West Side Story, I made the move to New York City in September of 2012 and spent the next year living there, auditioning, taking class, spending time with friends, etc.

While in NYC I had the opportunity to work on a few smaller projects with top choreographers in the city, including "Gypsy of the Year" and "Easter Bonnet" which are presentations put on to commemorate the efforts of Broadway and National Tour companies raising money for BC/EFA (Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS).

Q) When did you join the tour of “We Will Rock You?” What’s that experience been like?

Nathan Keen: I joined the tour of "We Will Rock You" in September of 2013, as part of the original company. We spent 4 weeks rehearsing in New York City, then 2 weeks tech-ing in Utica New York, before opening the show in Baltimore in October.

Being a part of "We Will Rock You" has been a dream. As an original company member I had the chance to work with the creative team in building this show; which is an experience I am so thankful for. Plus, on opening night I got to meet Brian May and Roger Taylor, two of the original members of Queen, and even got to perform on stage with Brian May. That experience was something I can barely begin to explain, it was the most surreal, amazing, moment, and definitely something that I will NEVER forget.

Since then, I have spent the past 6 months touring and performing with the most amazing group of rock stars! Seriously, thus company is so talented, and so amazing, and so fun, without them this experience would not be nearly as incredible.

Q) Were you a Queen fan before you joined the tour?

Nathan Keen: I absolutely was! My parents LOVE Queen, and I grew up listening to Queen music. I think Queens Greatest Hits was the 2nd CD my dad ever bought for me.

So being a huge fan of Queen, it has been such a thrill getting to perform their music every day, and in a way becoming a small part of the legend that is Queen and their music.

Q) Do you have a favorite scene/number?

Nathan Keen:I do, absolutely! My favorite part of the whole show is the Encore, during which the entire company performs Bohemian Rhapsody LIVE!! It's my favorite Queen song EVER, so getting to sing it and watch the audience Rock Out to it with us (and sing along (obviously) because, honestly, how can you not) is the most awesome thing for me!

Q) When we interviewed you in 2010, your advice to young Michigan actors was ‘Train hard! Find good acting classes….take dance classes.’ Is there anything you want to add to that now that you have more shows and tours under your belt?

Nathan Keen: That advice still stands! Keep training, learn to sing all styles of music, get into dance class, hone your acting. The world of Broadway belongs to the "Triple Threat"! But on top of that, have fun, take risks, and don't be afraid to risk everything to achieve your dreams!!

You can cheer for Nathan, and the entire cast of “We Will Rock You,” by catching a show between now and April 13 at the Fisher Theatre, located at 3011 W. Grand Blvd. in Detroit. Show times are: Tuesday through Saturday performances at 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. and Sunday evening performances at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for We Will Rock You start at $35 (includes parking and facility fees) and go on sale at all Ticketmaster locations, by phone at 1-800-982-2787, online, or at the Fisher Theatre box office.