Queen is in again, though they have never gone away. You can’t turn a radio on with without hearing “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And with the success of the movie of the same name, Queen is back in force.
So Lethbridge actor Kyle Gruninger is excited to be cast as the villain Khashoggi in “We Will Rock You,” a new touring musical inspired by Queen’s music.
Gruninger often sings Queen songs as part of the many New West Theatre music comedy revues he has been part of and will sometimes add a Queen song into his band Incura’s set.
“I’m excited about it. It’s about a post-apocalyptic world 300 years in the future where music has been banned by the Global Soft Corporation. But a group of Bohemians, Galileo and Scaramouche, fight for the right to play music.” Gruninger summarized, adding he learned about the audition through friends at New West Theatre who encouraged him to audition.
So while he was working on a cruise ship, he sent a video audition, made the cut and rushed back to audition in person in Calgary, where he completed acting, singing and dance auditions.
“I always warm up with ‘I Want to Break Free,’ but I auditioned with Radiohead’s ‘Creep.’ I was the only person to play guitar at the audition,” he said.
Gruninger noted he will be on the road all over Canada and the U.S beginning Sept. 3-8 in Winnipeg and until March 2020 with the new musical. It comes to the Enmax Centre on Jan. 18. The surviving members of Queen had a lot of say in who was cast, though he didn’t get to meet any of them.
“But thinking that (Queen guitarist) Brian May watched my tape and said okay is very cool,” he continued, adding he was confident going into the audition.
“I know I can sing, but to be surrounded by so many other talented people and made it really blows my mind,” he said.
“Casting is difficult, because it is like putting together a puzzle with all the right pieces and they thought that I would fit. There is a lot of work, but also a lot of being in the right place at the right time,” he said, adding the fact the casting directors knew Coalition, his personal and band management team, may have also helped. So he is one of the 11 cast members, including seven principles cast for the production.
“I’m travelling all over Canada and the U.S. with them, which is something I haven’t done before, though I’ve done that with a band,” he enthused.
“But first I’m going to record some new music in Toronto to take with me if anybody is interested.”
“There will be a lot of meet-and-greets that I’m really looking forward to, so I thought, why not,” he continued.
In the show, he sings “It’s a Kind of Magic,” with the Killer Queen and “Seven Seas of Rhye” solo, but most of his role involves dialogue and acting.
“And I get killed halfway through the show by the Killer Queen,” he noted.
“We’re performing 80 shows in three months, including one at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary, where I first saw Phantom of the Opera which encouraged me to act. So it’s come full circle,” he said, adding the run opens with five shows in Winnipeg, but he is also looking forward to multiple days performing in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
He noted rehearsals are in Calgary July 29-Aug. 20, which means he can stay close to home.
“We‘re in a hotel, but at least my wife can come and visit me,” he continued.
“I’m looking forward to being in front of a lot of people with this show.”