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Entertainment Highlights: Queen Extravaganza Is Coming to Lebanon

  • The Queen Extravaganza is to perform at the Lebanon Opera House on September 8, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

    The Queen Extravaganza is to perform at the Lebanon Opera House on September 8, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

  • The Queen Extravaganza is to perform at the Lebanon Opera House on September 8, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

    The Queen Extravaganza is to perform at the Lebanon Opera House on September 8, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Lead singer Marc Martel and the Queen Extravaganza are to perform at the Lebanon Opera House on September 8, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

    Lead singer Marc Martel and the Queen Extravaganza are to perform at the Lebanon Opera House on September 8, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

  • The Queen Extravaganza is to perform at the Lebanon Opera House on September 8, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)
  • The Queen Extravaganza is to perform at the Lebanon Opera House on September 8, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)
  • Lead singer Marc Martel and the Queen Extravaganza are to perform at the Lebanon Opera House on September 8, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

There are a lot of Queen tribute bands in Europe and beyond. Roger Taylor, the famed band’s drummer, wasn’t against the idea of them, but he wanted quality control.

The fruits of his and guitarist Brian May’s labor — an online search, a live TV performance, several international tours — will hit the Upper Valley on Sunday, when the Queen Extravaganza comes to the Lebanon Opera House, bringing the band’s distinctive sound to the stage.

“He didn’t want it to be like most tribute acts,” said Tyler Warren, the group’s drummer, speaking from Quebec City, where the band was finishing up a monthlong residency.

“Like, actually pretending to be Queen,” added Marc Martel, the singer. “That’s not the goal of the Queen Extravaganza. It’s more of a tribute to the music, and not so much the individual members of the band.”

To find his spiritual successors, Taylor put together an online contest, open to anyone interested in uploading a video to YouTube that featured an instrumental or vocal performance of a song culled from a predetermined list. The public was allowed a chance to vote, though Taylor had the final say.

“I grew up listening to Queen’s music, basically since I was in the womb,” Warren said. “I just happened to one day check the website.”

And he was chosen by Taylor, the band’s original drummer — no small honor for a musician.

“It was very, very cool, to say the least,” he said.

Martel said he was ambivalent about auditioning, but was pushed into it by friends who kept telling him his voice bore an uncanny resemblance to Freddie Mercury, and his wife, who told him he was born to fill the singer’s shoes. He was relatively uneducated about Queen, at the time — his first exposure to Bohemian Rhapsody was from the famous car-ride scene in Wayne’s World.

A nine-person band debuted with a performance on American Idol in April 2012, and began touring that summer. Martel said the show was reminiscent of a musical theater performance — four of the nine members, for instance, were singers, and not all were male. After the tour, the lineup was whittled down to six.

“It really is unmistakably a rock concert,” he said.

But, true to Taylor’s vision, it’s not a Queen carbon-copy. There’s still a female vocalist in the group, and the band doesn’t make any stilted attempts to, say, dress like their inspiration. With that comes an ability to slightly toy with some Queen standards, especially the ones that have been road-tested for decades.

Starting in 1973, Queen and lead singer Freddy Mercury had a string of stadium-rock hits such as We are the Champions and We Will Rock You.

“We’re still trying to create the studio songs, and how they performed them live, but we have a little bit of liberty to take the songs where we want to take them,” Warren said.

The Queen Extravaganza is at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Lebanon Opera House. Tickets range from $25 to $45, and be purchased from lebanonoperahouse.org.

Best Bets

Boston-based singer-songwriter Antje Duvekot, who received accolades for her 2006 debut album, Big Dream Boulevard, and her 2009 follow-up The Near Demise of the Highwire Dancer , will bring her brand of folk music to the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction on Friday. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15, and can be purchased from tupelohallvermont.com.

∎ Richard Haase will present a staged reading of Anzia’s Kitchen, a play he wrote and has workshopped on both coasts, at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction tonight. The play, which is set in the near future, follows a poor immigrant and her journey to become a Hollywood screenwriter. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., and there is a suggested donation of $2 to $20.

Music

Pianist, singer and performer Brian Gurl will bring his show, The Killer Bs, back to the city he was born in on Saturday. The Lebanon Opera House show will cycle through the music of Barry Manilow, Billy Joel and the Beatles, alongside a backing band made up of predominately local musicians. Check Saturday’s Valley News for the full story on Gurl. The Saturday show is at 7:30 p.m.

∎ Looking for a different sort of musical configuration? Electronic dance music duo Bastinado, which is coming to Tupelo on Saturday, is made up of producer Josh Harris, who plays an electronic instrument called the Reactable Live, and Joseph B. Carringer, who plays the didgeridoo. The show begins at 9 p.m., and tickets are $18. They can be purchased from tupelohallvermont.com.

∎ Sunapee’s Center for the Arts will welcome New England pianist William Ö gmundson for its First Friday “Music Night,” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Ögmundson’s performance will include a Mozart sonata and Joplin’s The Entertainer. The show, like all First Fridays, is free, and will take place at the Knowlton House in Sunapee Harbor. Refreshments will be served.

∎ Pianist and composer Deborrah Wyndam has been on a tour of libraries around the nation, teaching the history of ragtime through story and music. She’ll visit the Quechee Library on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The show is free.

∎ Organist Krista Rakich will return to the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College on Sunday to play another recital of Bach music. The show is at 4 p.m., and is free.

∎ John Marshall, a 2012 Sharon Academy alumnus, will perform vocal music and spoken pieces at the Chandler Music Hall on Saturday. The show will take place in the hall’s Esther Mesh Room, starting at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation, with checks payable to John Joseph Marshall. The money will go into a fund for Marshall to atttend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, to which he was recently accepted. Reservations can be made by calling Chandler at 802-728-6464.

Theatre

The Parish Players will perform a staged reading of the comedy Mr. Pim Passes By, by Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne — who was also a well-received playwright — through the weekend. On Saturday, the performance is at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday the play begins at 2 p.m. The show will be held at the Eclipse Grange Theater on Academy Road in Thetford. Tickets are $10, and reservations are not required. Call 802-785-4344 for more information.

∎ The Claremont Opera House will put on a performance of Calamity Town, a play adapted from the Ellery Queen novel by Joseph Goodrich, on Saturday and Sunday. The drama takes place in a fictional New England town and explores how a murder affects a prominent family there. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $13, and can be purchased from claremontoperahouse.org or by calling 603-542-0064.

Bar and Club Circuit

Portsmouth, N.H.-based singer Dan Walker will play guitar at Lebanon’s Salt hill Pub on Friday, starting at 9 p.m. The next night at the same time, Sean Wyatt will play a 21-and-over show.

∎ Dan Walker will play at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday, with the music beginning at 5 p.m.

∎ The John Lackard Blues Band will perform at West Lebanon’s Seven Barrel Brewery on Friday. The show begins at 9 p.m.

∎ One Mile West in Sunapee will welcome local singer-songwriter Brooks Hubbard on Saturday, with music starting at 9 p.m.

∎ Hanover’s Canoe Club has another full slate of weekend performers, starting with pianists Bob Lucier and Gillian Joy on Friday and Saturday, respectively. George Rice, David Westphalen and Fred Haas will perform together on Sunday. The music starts at 7 p.m.

∎ The Peter Concilio Jazz Trio will play the Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland on Friday, starting at 9 p.m.

∎ Arthur James & Northbound will bring blues rock to the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, at 8:30 p.m. on Friday.

Open Mics

Salt hill Pub in Hanover runs an open mic, hosted by Chad Gibbs, on Mondays at 9 p.m.

∎ At Salt hill in Lebanon, Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host an open mic tonight starting at 8.

∎ Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock. It’s on Mondays, starting at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit hosts an open mic on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Wednesdays, beginning at 8 p.m.

∎ Gregory Brown hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242. Send Highlights announcements to Highlights@vnews.com.