The return of ‘We Will Rock You’ demonstrates Vegas’ love of Queen

Queen, from left: John Deacon, Brian May, Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury
Photo: AP Photos

Legendary drag diva Frank Marino, who’s currently guest-starring in Legends in Concert at the Tropicana, has a built-in joke about not being the only queen in the cast—because Fernando Castro is doing a pretty solid Freddie Mercury tribute. Castro even sings “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which still seems like an impossible track to cover.

You know who does a mean “Bohemian” cover? The Bronx Wanderers. They play every night but Saturday at Mat Franco Theater in the Linq, and Vinny “Vin A.” Adinolfi kills it on piano and vocals while David Braun torches that Brian May solo.

Those are far from the only casino shows enthusiastically celebrating Queen. There’s Raiding the Rock Vault at the Hard Rock and Tenors of Rock at Planet Hollywood, both of which incorporated different songs into their act long before last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody biopic thrust the British rock band back into the pop culture stratosphere. When it comes to live bands and lounge acts, probably only Bruno Mars is covered more frequently than Freddie and the boys. And last week, the influential artist and muralist Shepard Fairey revealed his latest Las Vegas piece at On the Record in Park MGM: a giant re-creation of music photographer Mick Rock’s instantly recognizable portrait of Queen, plastered on the club’s brick patio wall.

We Will Rock You, the rock musical based on Queen and created in 2002, returns to Las Vegas October 4 and 5 to take over the 850-seat Orleans Showroom. Its North American premiere landed at Paris Las Vegas in 2004 and lasted for a year with a trimmed-down, single-act production. With a futuristic story line based on 24 different songs and a book by Ben Elton, WWRY’s original West End production featured music supervision from Queen guitarist May and drummer Roger Taylor. It has toured more than 20 countries and is currently performing parallel runs in North America and the U.K. through 2020.

With the Vegas-Queen connection holding strong, one has to wonder if the Strip will get another dose of the real thing sometime soon. Thanks to Aerosmith, Def Leppard and Journey, classic rock residencies are pretty close to being all the rage right now. Queen (May and Taylor) and Adam Lambert played a 10-show engagement dubbed “the Crown Jewels” last September at Park Theater—just across the casino floor from that new mural—and those proved to be some of the year’s most acclaimed Vegas concert events.

The refashioned outfit (Lambert has filled in for Mercury on and off since 2012) recently announced a seven-show run in June 2020 at London’s O2 Arena and the Manchester Arena, leaving plenty of spring, summer and fall space for a proper Vegas residency, sending Queen back to Park Theater (which has more dates with Aerosmith and Lady Gaga next year) or possibly bringing those legendary songs center Strip at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace (where Journey opens this week and Sting arrives in May).

Either way, there seems to be no limit to the appetite for Queen’s music in Las Vegas.

WE WILL ROCK YOU October 4-5, 8 p.m., $49-$60. Orleans Showroom, 702-365-7111.

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Brock is an award-winning writer who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently leads entertainment ...

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