In a season traditionally given over to blockbuster movies, the 5th Avenue Theatre provides the equivalent summer fun in the touring show "We Will Rock You." Large, loud, and cheerfully snarky, this slender science fiction tale provides a pair of young adult sweethearts, sassy sidekicks, evil henchmen, and a wicked queen who sings a lot of Queen.
If you’re willing to buy that Freddy Mercury and Queen can be the saviors of the universe, or at least rock-and-roll, then you’ll have a rollicking good time at the 5th this weekend humming along to the band’s biggest hits of the 1970s and early 1980s. Gifted with a screwball script from Ben Elton, the British comedian best known here for “Mr. Bean” and “The Young Ones,” the show tweaks popular culture and social media while giving the audience such standards as Queen standards as “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and “We Are The Champions.”
According to Elton, who directs and produces the current tour, the storyline has been tweaked a bit since the show first broke box office records in 2002 in the UK.
“There’s a new scene where our leads run away and discuss their loneliness and isolation,” he said in the show's program notes. Now “it seemed ridiculous for two kids to discuss friendship without reference to Facebook. The new dialogue with this changed emphasis brought the song ‘You Are My Best Friend’ into the show.”
With the heroes named after lines in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the story follows Galileo Figaro (Brian Justin Crum) and his gal pal Scaramouche (Ruby Lewis) as they battle a mighty corporation called GlobalSoft.
On opening night, the audience got into footstomping, hand-waving mood on several numbers (encouraged by the cast) and roared their approval of the highly staged encore.
Particular crowd pleasers in the touring cast were the leads, Crum and Lewis, as well as the Bohemian couple Oz (Erica Peck) and Britney (Jared Zirilli).
“We Will Rock You” continues at the 5th Avenue through July 13. For tickets and times, check the company’s website.