Review: True Rock (Queen’s Players Toronto)

The Cast of True Rock

Queen’s Players Toronto rock your socks off with True Rock, the kind of theatre party you don’t want to miss out on.

Seeing True Rock at Tranzac was one of the best times I’ve had in recent memory. However, “seeing” isn’t an appropriate word. A Queen’s Players Toronto show needs to be experienced live to be understood.

True Rock is a play, but it is more like an event. Queen’s Players Toronto creates experiences that are part sketch-comedy, part rock-concert and part keg party. It’s like a three-ring circus for cool, educated adults.

Queen’s Players Toronto is closely modelled after Queen’s Players, a comedy troupe run by Queen’s University students in Kingston. The Kingston version has been in existence for over a century and boasts alumni such as Lorne Greene and Robertson Davies.

True Rock is a night of laughs, beers and supporting a great cause. Queen’s Players Toronto has been putting on shows for ten years. During the last decade, they’ve sold 10,000 tickets and raised $100,000 for charity. There are corporate sponsors involved, a local beer company and a large food company. Everyone in the production is a volunteer.

It’s a huge “win” for all of us.

True Rock is loosely based on various scripted scenes and the characters are a mash up of pop culture icons that have been displaced to Toronto. The cast includes 10 members who are backed by a great eight-person band. Music plays a huge role as does alcohol.

The great band playing as we entered, spreading happiness. After everyone was comfortable, they started with a video to outline the premise of the show: 30 Rock, and NBC, had been taken over by The Canadian Government, lead by the CBC.

The band stays onstage during the play and adds a lot to the energy level and fun. People were literally dancing in the aisles throughout True Rock. The fun is truly infectious.

There are several “audience participation” traditions associated with a Queen’s Players show. Many involve drinking and all of them are fun. It’s a bit like a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

One tradition is for the audience to shout “sing” when the name of a song is said onstage. Mike, my frat-brother for the evening, was a tad disappointed when nobody heard him shout “sing” after hearing one of the actors say  ‘Who Are You?’

I’m not a huge fan of 30 Rock, but it helps the fun knowing about the icons being lampooned.

I love old James Last records. They are Ocktoberfest-style bands playing medleys of popular songs. Some call them the epitome of cheese. Really, they are tremendous fun, especially when accompanied by some Bavarian beverages. For me, True Rock was as much fun as listening to James Last with some good friends. Both are parodies, intentional or not, but imitation remains a true form of flattery.

One should attend a Queen’s Players Toronto show with an open mind, expecting to laugh, possibly dance, but definitely have a great time. There are lots of surprises and the show proves that “time flies when you are having fun”.

I’m not the first Mooney on Theatre writer to have a great time at a Queen’s Players Toronto show and I doubt I will be the last.

The only thing I didn’t like about True Rock was that I hadn’t been to a Queen’s Players Toronto presentation before!

 – True Rock played at Tranzac (292 Brunswick Avenue) on June 7-9 and June 14-16, 2012