Best Bets: 33 1/3 LIVE gives Queen royal treatment at Smyrna Opera House

The 33 1/3 LIVE music collective performs the Killer Queen Experience March 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Smyrna Opera House. The group will play the album “A Night at the Opera” in its entirety along with other Queen hits. (Submitted photo)

In any endeavor, talent is key. But it doesn’t hurt to have a little luck too.

Jim Drnec is finding that out as his music collective 33 1/3 LIVE has taken on the music of the classic rock band Queen.

On the heels of the success of the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” and its four Oscar wins Sunday night, including a Best Actor trophy for Rami Malek in the role of lead singer Freddie Mercury, Queen has experienced increased interest in their music of late.

But Mr. Drnec, a longtime drummer and also trial lawyer in Wilmington who founded 33 1/3 LIVE, started mounting an effort to perform Queen’s music two years ago.

“It turned out this was really timely in confluence with the movie and their resurgence,” said Mr. Drnec, who also spent a year as the drummer for glam metal band Cinderella.

“We usually do this kind of a show once or twice and then we move on to keep interest high and to let people know that if they miss it, they’ll never see it again. But with the investment of time and labor put into this one, it makes sense to keep it going.

“We’ve really been in demand. Usually you’re knocking on doors to get people to book you. But I’ve been getting so many phone calls that I’ve been able to pick and choose what we do and decide whether I want to put the show on a particular stage.”

One stage the band’s Killer Queen Experience will play is at the Smyrna Opera House March 9 at 7:30 p.m.

The 11-musician group will perform Queen’s seminal 1975 album “A Night at the Opera” in its entirety along with other hits from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.

Mr. Drnec started the concept of 33 1/3 LIVE in 2001. The idea was to find an album then seek out musicians from throughout the Delaware Valley, who are best suited to faithfully recreate the songs on the record live on stage.

So far, albums that have gotten the treatment include the debut, self-titled records by Montrose and The Cars, The Who’s “Who’s Next,” Aerosmith’s “Rocks” and now “A Night At The Opera.”

“It’s really been an excuse to tell my wife I’m only in one band when it’s really been six,” Mr. Drnec joked.

“If you choose to play cover songs, you can get into that rut where you play the same top 40 songs over and over again. With this group, I’m playing the songs that I love with people who I care about.”

He harkens back to the days when music was all about the album.

“The vinyl record was the way music was intended to be listened to. People consume music differently now. They stream singles and shuffle playlists around. It used to be that the single was just a marketing tool to get you to buy the record,” Mr. Drnec said.

“Artists took an incredible amount of time to arrange the order of the songs that went on the album. To me, that’s how it was supposed to be listened to.”

“A Night at the Opera” was the most expensive album ever recorded at the time of its release and is known for its complex production that extensively used multi-track recording, with songs that incorporated a wide range of styles.

It includes the tracks “You’re My Best Friend,” “The Prophet’s Song,” and the iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

To pull this off, Mr. Drnec has put together a group of musicians that includes Justin Gonzalez, a classically trained singer from Philadelphia, who lends his operatic voice to many of the songs originally performed by Mr. Mercury.

“I was listening to ‘A Night at the Opera’ one day and thought that this would be a real pleasure to do if we could find the right people. I sent it to Justin to see if he could do justice to it and he said ‘No problem’ and we were off and running,” Mr. Drnec said.

With more musicians and singers than were on the album, 33 1/3 LIVE is able to faithfully recreate the sound of the record live.

“On ‘The Prophet’s Song,’ there is a nearly two-minute section where Freddie uses tape delay to harmonize with himself. It’s a wonderful studio trick,” Mr. Drnec said.

“We do that live with three voices. Those guys knock me out every time I hear it. It’s a real highlight of the show.”

Mr. Drnec, whose first band he saw play live was Queen when he was 15 years old, also points to “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a show stopper.

“If you went to see Queen live, for the center bit of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ they would show an MTV video on these massive screens and when that bit was over, they would go back to singing,” he said.

“They didn’t do that live. But we kept adding to it until we have seven voices doing it on stage.”

The show has been performed about half a dozen times so far, including last month in Philadelphia.

“It’s really all coming together. Every time we’ve done it, it’s gotten better and better,” Mr. Drnec said.

“We’re pretty proud of the accuracy of it all.”

Tickets are $16 general admission; $14 for Smyrna Opera House members, senior citizens (65-plus) and military; and $8 for children 12 and under.

They can be purchased at SmyrnaOperaHouse.org, by calling 653-4236 or at the box office at 7 W. South St. Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At the movies

The Kent County Public Library, at 497 S. Red Haven Lane in Dover, will continue its Friday Movie Matinee series in March. With March being Women’s History Month, they will be screening films and documentaries about inspiring and outstanding women, and the fight for women’s rights all month long.

Screenings start promptly at 3 p.m. Seating is limited and preregistration is required. The Friday Movie Matinee series is intended for adult audiences. (All titles rated PG/PG13.) Stop by the circulation desk or call the library at (302) 744-1919 to register. You can also register online at www.tinyurl.com/KCPLcalendar.

The schedule is as follows:

Today: “Hidden Figures” – The award-winning untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, African-American women who work at NASA and served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

March 8: “The Eagle Huntress” – Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, trains to become the first female in 12 generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter, and rises to the pinnacle of a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for centuries.

March 15: “Suffragette” – A drama about the women who were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality in early 20th century

March 22: “The Queen of Katwe” – The award-winning true story of a young girl selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly chances when she is introduced to the game of chess, and pursues her dream of becoming an international champion.

March 29: “One Woman, One Vote” – This PBS production documents the struggle which culminated in the passing of the 19th Amendment in the U.S. Senate by one vote.

Trailer challenge

Speaking of movies, with the cooperation of prolific music producer Tommee Profitt, the Revival House is holding its largest filmmaking endeavor with its “Tommee Profitt Trailer Challenge.”

The award-winning producer/composer/songwriter Mr. Profitt has provided music for countless films, video games and television shows and channels and has released five albums titled “Cinematic Sounds.” The Revival House has selected 10 songs of Mr. Profitt’s that will serve as inspiration for filmmakers to create a trailer for this particular contest.

Mr. Profitt’s music can be heard on television shows such as: “Empire,” “The Good Doctor,” “The Titan Games,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “American Ninja Warrior.” His music is also featured on networks such as NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB; video games such as “Assassin’s Creed,” “UFC2” and “Madden16; and films such as “Concussion,” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.”

“This is one of our biggest events of the year,” said Rob Rector of the Revival House. “Profitt has created scores for shows, networks, films and videogames, and he is giving the Revival House permission to use his works to let filmmakers craft their own trailers.”

“When you hear his work, it’s all so cinematic, that you almost instinctively craft a trailer in your mind, but now filmmakers will have a chance to put it them to their own vision,” he added. “And he has agreed to help judge the submissions for the competition as well, which is really exciting.”

Films must be submitted no later than midnight on Saturday, July 6, to be eligible for the competition. All finalists will be screened for the public at the Milton Theatre on Saturday, July 20, at 7 p.m.

“This is a completely unique challenge, but one that should be pretty exciting for those who participate,” Mr. Rector said. “And to have someone with Tommee Profitt’s caliber setting the score for these trailers, we should have incredible inspiration for local filmmakers.”

Interested filmmakers can head to the Revival House website at revivalhousetheater.com for the list of 10 eligible songs and a link to a downloadable waiver for the competition.

On stage

Along with the Polytech production of “Chicago,” found elsewhere in the section, two other area schools have plays on the agenda.

As we told you last week, the students of Milford High School Drama Club will present Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” today and Saturday. This is the Broadway version of the show that is based on the 1957 television film starring Julie Andrews with classic Rodgers and Hammerstein music.

Freshman Paige Thompson plays Ella, the kind young woman who dreams of a better life, and sophomore Dylan Phillips plays Topher, the charming young prince who is searching for his true love.

The shows today and Saturday will start at 7 p.m. There will also be an afternoon matinee on Saturday, at 1 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door. $5 for students age 18 or younger; $6 for seniors 60 or older; $8 for all others.

For additional information, contact Erica Snyder at (302) 422-1610 or esnyder@msd.k12.de.us.

Also, the Caesar Rodney Music Department and Stage Crew and Thespians will be presenting Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s family classic, “The Sound of Music,” Thursday and March 8 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m.

Performances will be staged in the Caesar Rodney High School Theater and will feature over 75 CRHS students in various onstage, back stage, and playing roles. General admission tickets will be available at the door. Reserved seat tickets can be purchased in advance at www.crscat.org.

Now Showing

New in theaters is the suspense-thriller “Greta,” the comedy sequel “A Madea Family Funeral” and the re-release of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in “A Star is Born.”

New on DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Creed II,” the Mark Wahlberg comedy “Instant Family,” Julia Roberts in “Ben is Back” and Academy Award winners “The Favourite” and “Free Solo.”

To share news of your entertainment group, venue or event, contact Craig Horleman at 741-8224 or chorl@newszap.com.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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