In the wake of the Oscar award-winning movie Bohemian Rhapsody, about the life of Freddie Mercury, the traveling Queen Rock Symphonic show “We Will Rock You” arrived in Israel this month. In fact, the rock-cum-classical musical experience from the theater district of London, England, made its way to the pinnacle of Tel Aviv cultural venues: the Charles Bronfman Auditorium, home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Members of the original British cast -- four vocalists, three guitarists, a drummer and a keyboardist, along with conductor and musical arranger Richard Sidwell -- were imported by local production company EGOeast. Here they were joined onstage by the Ashdod Symphony Orchestra, with guest conductor Sidwell at the podium.
The main performance, scheduled for December 10, quickly sold out. Responding to public demand, a second performance was added the night before (December 9); it, too, played to a packed house.
If anyone thought the show was merely going to be Queen’s greatest hits, they were sorely mistaken. Quite a few of the numbers were taken from the legendary group’s earlier, lesser known, albums; one welcome aspect of the production was that many of the songs were prefaced by a brief introduction, placing them in historical perspective.
The first half of the show featured the hit song “Pressure,” a famed collaboration with David Bowie, and concluded with the eponymous classic “We Will Rock You,” which left the audience wishing for more.
After the intermission, the second half got off to a slow start, with several more unfamiliar numbers. But the performers soon got the audience involved during their rendition of “Lady Gaga”; and shortly thereafter, the part everyone was waiting for arrived: the masterpiece “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Hearing the piece played with the participation of a full symphony orchestra by itself worth the price of admission; this was obviously the way Bohemian Rhapsody was meant to be enjoyed.
When the band said goodbye to the audience, not a single member of the audience believed for a moment that the concert was really over.
Sure enough, as the sustained applause continued, the cast was soon back, immediately launching into an unforgettable version of “Another One Bites the Dust,” enhanced immeasurably by the brass section’s fanfares.
By this time, of course, the audience was on its feet, swaying, clapping and dancing.
The finale, needless to say, was “We Are the Champions,” always a crowd-pleaser.
All voices were raised as one, leaving everyone on a high as the show came to a close.