Hey Toronto, get ready to rock again.
In an exclusive interview yesterday, show writer-director Ben Elton told the Star that not only is a We Will Rock You sequel planned, but there is a very good chance it could start in Toronto.
“We love this city so much,” said Elton. “Not just the talent of its actors but the generosity of its audiences. It’s a lovely thought to start it all over again here, isn’t it?”
Although the concept of a followup to the Queen musical had been something “we’d always sort of fancied” according to Elton, the rabbit was let out of the hat by Queen guitarist and songwriter Brian May recently when in the course of getting an honorary degree from Exeter University, he revealed that a followup to the story of Galileo and Scaramouche was closer than anyone had thought.
“It would be foolish not to do it,” said Elton on the phone from Liverpool where his next Mirvish show, The Boys in the Photograph, was having a workshop production.
“Not only do most audiences have a real and genuine affection for the characters,” reasoned Elton, “but there’s also 24 top 10 chart singles we didn’t get a chance to use in We Will Rock You.”
Elton said that what held the creators back for so long was the incredible popularity of the original We Will Rock You.
“Why do something new,” he asked, “when the original is still performing so well?” And in fact, the show is still selling out in London as it has ever since its opening in 2002. It continues in Toronto at the Canon Theatre until May 11.
But the fascination of taking his characters that extra step further finally proved irresistible to Elton and “six months ago, I dove right in and spent a few months on it.”
He showed his new version to May and Queen drummer Roger Taylor, who pronounced themselves “thrilled with it.”
Elton said his sequel follows the same scenario that “we all know happens to rock stars: they achieve their dreams and then they screw up.”
The character Galileo, having become “the first rock star of the new millennium” in We Will Rock You, is ripe for the downward slide to destruction.
“He was a little bit of a dick already in the first part,” said Elton, “but because of his youth and innocence, he was a lovable one.”
In the sequel, however, “he does the journey Elvis does and gets into some really awful things.”
The faithful Scaramouche stands behind her man and “tries to rid him of some of his more awful pretensions,” according to Elton.
He sees their relationship as not unlike that between “a lead guitarist and a singer, where one is always trying to keep the other in line with a combination of sheer force and dry wit.”
But how soon will this new show launch? “We can’t do it in England,” insisted Elton, “not while the first one is still selling out. We’re victims of our own success.”
That’s why a Toronto production looms as an increasingly attractive possibility, especially in a city that Elton finds “so congenial to work in” and with a producing team like the Mirvishes, whom he finds “Grade A all the way down the line.”
And the title? As Elton said, “If you dip into Queen’s greatest hits, you’d hardly find a better one than The Show Must Go On.”
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