Updated: Aug 31, 2022
The stage at Chance Theater positively screamed last night as 26 performers took to it, showcasing “The Music of Queen,” a rock and symphonic spectacular. No matter how you have come to know the music of Queen, you know that it involves something legendary and special, which was exactly what Broadway Knights and a three-piece rock band brought to this packed audience.
For me, any Queen song is an experience: sacrament by sound wave. The band laughingly towers over superlatives. And this is a show no music fan should have dared miss — a truly remarkable performance and amazing production. The music of Queen came alive in a single weekend as Rob Krueger’s Broadway Knights recreated and paid tribute to the greatest band of all time through an unforgettable live stage performance featuring some of the most charismatic and vocally gifted singers to ever grace the stage at Chance Theater. It was Broadway Knights’ highest water mark, as these scintillatingly brilliant artists basked in the heights of creativity and the outlands of beautiful '70s hard rock pomposity.
Stage awash with hazy lights on a set still raised from the heels of “American Idiot,” it was “Radio Ga Ga” that first caressed the audience’s ears, cascading from the speakers like sweet elixir, celebrating in its own way the immortality of the music itself, its ability to live on through the hearts and minds of generations both past, present and future.
Directed by Broadway Knights founder Robert Krueger, Musically Directed by Gabrielle Maldonado, Choreographed by Taylor Lee Windle, and Stage Managed by Camille Ellen, the benefit show featured one of the hottest new stars of this generation, Brian Justin Crum, who became a viral sensation when he performed his cover of Radiohead’s Creep on "America’s Got Talent," amassing over 100 million views online. In 2017, his hit single, “Show Me Love” (written and first released by Robyn in 19997), reached #2 on the Top 10 Billboard Dance Charts of the year, alongside Rihanna, Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran. A Broadway star at 17, Mr. Crum has also performed in “Wicked,” “Next to Normal,” and the 2013 North American Tour of “We Will Rock You,” as Gallileo. Incidentally, Broadway Knights’ Ruby Lewis (“Grease,” Desperate Housewives”) also starred as Scaramouche on that same tour.
It has been over 30 years since the death of Freddie Mercury, but his legacy lives on, celebrated by the magic of Emma Ballen (“The ChapTones”), Holden Bath (“The Lion in Winter”), Katia Carbajal (“Footloose”), Allan P Cason (“Shrek: The Musical”), Christina Chan (“Fame! The Musical”), Yadira Del Rincon (“Children of Eden”), Miguel Erickson (“The Christmas Express”), Taylor Sage Evans (“Catch Me If You Can”), Judy Fernandez (“Guys and Dolls”), Lissette Garrido (“West Side Story”), Maya Elizabeth Garza (“Cabaret”), Gabrielle Gutierrez (Chance Theater debut), Kelsey Hamann (“The Wedding Singer”), Kiana Hamzehi (“Schoolhouse Rock!”), Bonnie King (Shrek”), Devyn Kontur (“Hairspray”), Jessica Mabry (Broadway Knights debut), JT Nelson, Luis Ochoa, Winston Peacock, Avi Spitzer, and Liane Walls.
Those who don't believe in reincarnation should have spent Sunday night with us inside a packed Chance Theater thrust blackbox watching Mr. Crum and a highly talented Broadway Knights ensemble bring Freddy Mercury and Queen to life. Wearing tight white pants, fashion sneakers and tank top, Mr. Crum sang brilliantly in a two-hour energy-filled benefit concert that had teens to grandparents stomping in their seats.
And of course, what would a Queen show be without the hits, like, “Somebody to Love, seeing Brian Justin Crum crowning in his element as he expertly channels the peerless Mercury, or the deliciously infectious “We Will Rock You,” setting the rafters alight in a synchronous, pounding stomp. The music came thick and fast, one sensational smash hit barely finishing before the next would be chasing its tail. The performance was so polished – unsurprisingly from a group of such consummate performers – that it gave rise to an elated joy that floated above each song.
Other notable favorites included, “Another One Bites The Dust,” “I Want It All,” “I Want to Break Free,” “Play The Game,” “Under Pressure,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Who Wants to Live Forever,” “We Are The Champions,” “One Vision,” and “Killer Queen.” For the encore, with a full-throated multigenerational singalong to (what else?) “Bohemian Rhapsody,” everyone was up on their feet, arms swaying and singing as though their lives depended upon it, a cacophony of brilliant music swirled around the theater.
Any form of Queen fan would be hard pressed not to like this celebration of their music; a tribute of sorts to one of the greatest rock bands in the world. And what a delightful tribute it was. You could almost close your eyes and become a teen again in 1977.
Credit the enduring vocal prowess of Brian Justice Crum that makes the whole operation work, adding his own nuances, vibrancy and color to the music that would no doubt curl the corners of Mercury’s lips in delight. I honestly can’t imagine any other vocalist in this area who can handle all the different styles that make up the Queen sound, who seems to be not only naturally suited to the pop/ballad/epic/operatic portions of the Queen oeuvre, but also more than adequate on the rockers.
As I mentioned, the two concerts (Saturday, August 27 at 8:00pm and Sunday, August 28 at 7:00pm) were benefit concerts which helps support the Chance-a-thon 2022 drive, and also included cabarets from various area artists and groups performing on both stages all weekend. The goal of $32,000, thankfully, seemed to be soon met as subscribers and supporters flooded the theater with gifts of various denominations. Chance Theater’s mission is to contribute to a more connected, compassionate and creative community, dedicated to the creation of exciting theatrical experiences, taking artistic risks, and collaborating with gifted and diverse artists on passionate and provocative plays and musicals. Help support Chance Theater in this mission with your contribution at https://www.chancetheater.com/
Arts & Entertainment Reviewer
The Show Report