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SACHS's We Will Rock You a fresh interpretation of Queen's music

The two-act production is at the Arden Theatre on May 18 and 19.
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Scaramouche (Adriel Dawood) and Galileo (Julian Perez-Gerald) are the heroic rebels who rediscover Queen's music in the dystopian musical We Will Rock You. Ecole Secondaire St. Albert Catholic High School's musical theatre program performs this anthemic play at the Arden Theatre on May 18 and 19, 2022. ANNA BOROWIECKI/St. Albert Gazette

Since We Will Rock You first appeared in London’s West End in 2002, reviewers have described it with any number of adjectives — intriguing, challenging, romantic, cynical, sad, hilarious, shallow, and satisfying. 

Regardless of one’s position, the jukebox musical based on songs from British rock band Queen is one of the most talked about productions in modern history. It’s a favourite of community groups and now École Secondaire St. Albert Catholic High School presents the two-act play May 18 and 19 at the Arden Theatre. 

“It’s about youth rebellion. One of the major connecting pieces are the hit songs from Queen. It’s a futuristic play, but the common language is Queen,” said director Jennifer Koehler. 

Although Ben Elton’s plot is a bit skimpy, the drawing power is the play's 20 Queen hits, including the universally popular anthems Another One Bites the Dust, Bohemian Rhapsody, Killer Queen, We Are the Champions, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love

“The students were super excited about doing this musical. They were familiar with the music. That’s the connection to the kids, but in their minds, it was vintage music,” Koehler said with a laugh. 

Elton has written a dark fairytale of a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world set 300 years into the future. Earth is now Planet Mall controlled by Globalsoft Corporation. The imperious overlord of Globalsoft is the villainous Killer Queen, who has outlawed all hand-played music in favour of computer-generated pop. 

Singing, musical instruments, and any expression of creativity is banned and conformity reigns. But ancient texts exist describing music from past centuries. The Bohemians, a group of rebels, strive to discover the lost music and bring down the corporation. 

The Killer Queen has heard the prophecy, and it threatens to destroy her power. It reveals musical instruments are hidden in a secret place and The Dreamer will surface to lead the way. She orders Khashoggi, her Chief of Police, to crush the rebels. 

Galileo, a young student and outsider, hears lyrics in his dreams, and is considered the mysterious prophet who will discover musical instruments. To evade the Killer Queen and bring back music, he depends on Pop, an older hippie librarian for assistance. With the help of Scaramouche, the two heroes find rock’s Holy Grail. 

“Overall, it’s about individuality and being true to yourself. It’s about inclusiveness. Even though Galileo and Scaramouche go about individually, they must work together with the Bohemians to bring back individuality,” Koehler said. 

In this cast of 36 actors, four students carry the dominant roles. Julian Perez-Gerald, a Grade 12 student, fills all the bases as Galileo. 

“Julian is very charming. He brings energy and is an essential leader in the group. He was the best fit vocally, acting-wise, and dancing.” 

Although only in Grade 10, Adriel Dawood latched on to the spit-fire role of Scaramouch. 

“Adriel has an amazing voice. Her acting comes out with an edge and attitude, and I believe she embodies Scaramouche.”  

Grade 10 student Molly Koehler presents her spin on the half-human, half-machine Killer Queen. 

“For the Queen, I needed someone who could match energies with Khashoggi and play off each other. Molly can bring up the energy and compete with others.” 

Ryan Babiuk, a Grade 12 student, tackles the role of Khashoggi, a sidekick always under the Killer Queen’s thumb. 

“Ryan is a killer sidekick. He is a disciplined government police officer. He sings, dances, and promotes conformity. Anyone not confirming is killed, removed, or imprisoned.” 

The script calls for multiple locales, but the set is mainly a barren wasteland. Even Elvis’s Graceland mansion has deteriorated and changed over time, said Koehler. 

“It’s super-exciting to be back at the Arden. But the selling point is the music. Anything with familiar pop songs is a huge draw for us.” 

We Will Rock You is on May 18 and 19 at the Arden Theatre starting at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $20. For tickets, call the school at 780-459-7781.  

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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