BWW Review: ROCK YOU! CLOSES THE HEARTLAND MEN'S CHORUS SEASON AT THE FOLLY THEATER
ROCK YOU! A WILD RIDE THROUGH THE MUSIC OF QUEEN was presented by the Heartland Men's Chorus at the Folly Theater in Kansas City, on June 8 and 9, wrapping up the 31st season for the chorus. I have seen numerous shows by the chorus and in my opinion, this tribute takes the crown. Kathleen McGuire provided a fantastic arrangement for the men's chorus.
In my opinion about the only thing that could have possibly made the show better was if Queen would have performed it themselves. Last year's release of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody has brought a resurgence of the British rock band. The biography of the band's lead singer, Freddy Mercury, has helped to bring the always popular and sometimes controversial songs back into the limelight for new generations to enjoy.
Before the program began the Heartland Men's Chorus announced that Dustin S. Cates, the Artistic Director, had accepted a position in Philadelphia and he would be leaving the organization. They further announced that Shawn Cullen had been selected as the interim artistic director. At the end of intermission, Cates was again honored for his service to the chorus and Kansas City Mayor Sly James Read a proclamation that was given to Cates by the city.
The chorus got the house rocking with "We Will Rock You" featuring Patrick Lewallen. Guest-starring with the Heartland Men's Chorus Lewallen describes himself as the biggest Queen fan ever. He has appeared in the first Broadway tour of ROCK OF AGES and the farewell international Broadway tour of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. His performance was fabulous but the audience had to stay for the second encore to truly appreciate his talent as he is accompanied by the chorus in "Bohemian Rhapsody".
The second song of the program kept the audience involved with, "We Are the Champion" with a solo by Steve Therrien. The program continued with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Under Pressure" with solos by Adam Brown and Curt Knupp, and "Las Palabras de Amor" featuring the Chamber Ensemble.
A comedy skit was then set to "Flash (Flash's Theme)" before Lewallen returned to the stage to perform "Love of My Life". Michael Schnetzer performed a solo with "Don't Stop Me Now" and Sean Carder closed the first act with "Somebody to Love".
After the mayor made his presentation Act Two opened with a humorous interpretation of "God Save the Queen" featuring The Brexit Singers and the Rock You Band. A fabulous rendition of "Killer Queen" with a wonderful solo by Todd Gregory-Gibbs. "Bicycle Race" featuring the Burnt Ends and "Fat Bottomed Girls" followed.
One of the best solo performances of the show was provided by John Edmonds singing "The Great Pretender". I have seen Edmonds perform many times and this was by far the best performance I have had the good fortune to watch. He brings an electrifying energy to the stage along with his superb voice.
"Who Wants to Live Forever" followed Edmonds and Bob Kohler's solo of "The Show Must Go On" lead to the last song of the program "Let Me Live". The final curtain came after two encore performances including the spectacular "Bohemian Rhapsody".
Don't miss the Heartland Men's Chorus 2019-2020 season when they present, MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT!, SMITTEN WITH BRITAN, and UNBREAKABLE. For more information on the Heartland Men's Chorus online go to www.hmckc.org.
Photo credit Susan McSpadden