Freddie Mercury’s vocal range spanned a massive three and a half octaves, but drunk karaokers the world over still attempt the almighty “Bohemian Rhapsody” with no hesitation. Sept. 5 marks what would have been Mercury’s 63rd birthday and, to celebrate, Winnipeggers’ vocal cords can take part in “We Will Rock You: The Queen Sing-Along” at the Park Theatre. Event coordinator Kier-La Janisse, Ddirector of Big Smash! Productions, says the idea for a Queen sing-along sort of just happened.
“I was in a video store one day and noticed the staff were watching a Queen DVD in the back,” she says, “Soon the entire store was full of people singing along; it was like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and I was surrounded by the Freddie Mercury pod people.”
One of rock’s most influential and successful rock acts, Queen mixed pop, progressive rock and even a little disco into clap-happy songs that we can’t help but sing along to, even if it is normally only in the privacy of our own homes.
“The easiest to sing are probably ’Fat Bottomed Girls’ or ’You’re My Best Friend,’ but they’re also among the most conventionally structured,” Janisse explains. “Of course, I’m a sucker for the obligatory ’We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions’ combo — it’s hard not to feel like you could crush giant boulders with your bare hands after listening to them.”
A fundraiser for Big Smash! Productions, “We Will Rock You: The Queen Sing-Along” will be a feature-length compilation of music videos edited together with subtitled song lyrics, so you don’t even have to know the words by heart. And with the crowd singing all at once, the embarrassment of not hitting that high note will only be noticed by yourself . . . hopefully.
“My favourite to sing is ’Don’t Stop Me Now,’” Janisse says, “But I sound like a wounded animal so that’s what the other people in the audience are there for!”
“We Will Rock You: The Queen Sing-Along” is the next step in Janisse’s sing-along series which has thus far included the Beatles, ’80s power ballads, and Journey.
“Some sing-alongs call for props — for the ‘Love Bites: The ’80s Power Ballad Singalong’ we gave lighters to everyone,” Janisse said. “With the Journey singalong, I added in a lot of movie and TV clips where Journey’s music played a pivotal role.”
This Queen installment won’t feature props, but there will be a few Queen-related short films screened beforehand, and rare Queen DVDs for sale on-site. Additionally, Rob Vilar will be DJing and Jamil Mahmood will MC, possibly, Janisse says, “in a one-piece leotard.”
“We Will Rock You: The Queen Sing-Along” takes place at the Park Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 8 p.m..