Hundreds of people from the Bay Path University community and beyond were “ready to rock” last weekend as they arrived at Mills Theatre for We Will Rock You, a jukebox musical set in a post-apocalyptic world where free thinking, fashion, and live music are forbidden. The production featured a score of more than 20 Queen tunes, including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and “Somebody to Love.” Director of Musical Activities Robert Tomasulo worked with the cast of Bay Path students to bring these famed scores to life. Gain insight into how he directed the musical components of the show in this Q&A:
Queen's music has such a distinctive, iconic sound. What are some of the challenges of directing the ensemble and cast on 20 of the band's songs?
It is undeniable that Freddie Mercury possessed one of the most unique voices in popular music and it can be a daunting task to attempt to replicate that level of vocal prowess. That being said, the primary challenge presented in music directing this show was deciding to which extent we would try to replicate the original songs. I wanted to make sure we struck a healthy balance of paying tribute to Queen while still highlighting the unique talents and abilities of our students.
This being the University's first-ever jukebox musical, were there any differences in your creative process? If so, what were they?
I love the premise of jukebox musicals; they give us the opportunity to research and reproduce on stage some of the greatest songs ever written. Whenever I work on a jukebox show, I always want to make sure that there is a level of authenticity in the actors' performances. I encouraged students to not only listen to the original cast recording for reference but to go to the source material - the original Queen songs - and use those as their primary resources. I would continuously challenge students by asking, "What did Freddie do?" and encourage them to base their vocal stylings on the original recordings. Additionally, the original creative team took special care to notate all of the original Queen harmonies and vocal lines in the score, which greatly aided in our pursuit of authenticity (not to mention how thrilling it was to learn and perform the original vocal parts for such iconic songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody!").
What was your personal favorite part of the production, and why?
I took special care to bring in pit musicians that were not only top-notch professionals but who were also experienced in performing this style of rock music; it was just important that we had the authentic musical sound of Queen coming from the pit band (down in C103), as well. One of my favorite moments of the production was during the iconic "Killer Queen" guitar solo. Towards the end of the solo section, where both Nick Cutroneo (Guitar I) and Dan Hartington (Guitar II) are harmonizing in thirds, I would always catch myself smiling. This would then lead to a brief out-of-body experience - all happening while playing out the rest of the song, mind you - where I was able to just listen to, quite frankly, how great we (the actors and the band) sounded!
Anything else you'd like to share?
I am incredibly proud of what the students accomplished! I only wish that more folks from the Bay Path Community were able to experience our
Click through the slideshow to see some highlights from We Will Rock You! Want to learn more about the production? Check out this interview with