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Radio Gaga combines 2 great rock legends — Queen and Lady Gaga

Legend has it Lady Gaga took her name from the Queen song, “Radio Gaga.” One local band has taken that notion a step further and blends the personas of Queen and Lady Gaga with all of the theatricality and spectacle of both acts.Radio Gaga formed in 2021, with Josh Scholl in the Freddie Mercury role and Cait Coulomb in the role of Lady Gaga. The group makes its debut at 9 p.m. Oct. 15 on the Hard Rock Café Stage at the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in Gary, performing the hits of both Queen and Lady Gaga.

“The idea hatched when I was watching ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘A Star is Born’ at the Oscars back in 2019 and I was like, this would be an unbelievable concept. You know they’d be performing together if Freddy was still around,” he said.He got together with Dave Calzaretta, founder of the popular band Maggie Speaks, and his business partner in the other bands he’s a part of and they created a plan for the show. Then the pandemic shut everything down in the early days. They managed to play their first show at Navy Pier in 2020 and a few more in 2021.

“This year, it’s absolutely blown up,” Scholl said. “The whole concept is like an alternative universe where rock stars are immortal and Freddie and Gaga are on tour together. We sing each other’s hits, we do mashups, duets, it’s not just like a set of Freddie and a set of Gaga. It’s them coming out and interacting like they would if they were doing a show together.“We have an eight-piece band, backing vocalists and it all culminates at the end with the classic Live Aid Queen performance. But we’ve updated it with our own twist and thrown Gaga in there. There’s a lot of surprises and a lot of things you wouldn’t expect coming. It’s surprise-after-visual-and-musical-surprise.”

That includes costume changes, lighting, dancing and all the spectacle you would want from a show featuring Gaga and Queen songs. He’s even grown out the iconic Freddie Mercury mustache.“We keep on continuing to grow and get bigger and better,” Scholl said. “It would be amazing to do a revue in Vegas and take the show nationally. We have big aspirations.”Scholl is fresh off playing the role of Stacee Jaxx in The Paramount Theatre’s production of “Rock ofAges” last spring in Aurora, Illinois.

Audiences will hear the radio hits from both acts, plus the songs Queen did at Live Aid in 1985.“All of Gaga’s high-energy stuff … spanning her whole 12-year career,” he said. “I like to take songs from every album. It’s amazing to hear people say, ‘I didn’t know a lot of Gaga songs but I’m a huge Queen fan (and) I was up and dancing the whole time.’ Or, ‘You introduced me to a whole bunch of Queen songs I wasn’t aware of.’ We love that.”

Since Lady Gaga’s songs have a lot of electronics, “We have a live keyboardist that works overtime,” he said.Obviously, with the modern music, you do have to have some stuff sampled in the background if you want the full sound. But even Queen layered guitars in their recordings,” he said. “We try to be as authentic as we can to the recordings. We rock it out so a lot of the Gaga stuff is more rocked than you think about. It’s still driving and danceable.”

Queen had a lot of danceable, sing-along songs as well, he said.“Freddie was a dancer up on stage in his own way and I definitely bring that physicality to the performance,” he said. “It’s very surprising and it kind of surprised us as well. We didn’t know if this was going to work. We lucked out with placing the set together and found out we didn’t need to change much.”Because of the movies Bohemian Rhapsody” and “A Star is Born”  a whole new generation has been introduced to both acts, he said.“It really does bridge the gap between generations,” he said. “It’s a great, inclusive project to be a part of.”

People will be able to sing along to every song, he said.“The source material is so familiar. We stick to the hits; we don’t like to do B-sides,” he said. “You’re going to be very familiar with it but it’s something you’ve never seen presented in this way. It’s a whole new, fresh vision of this catalogue of hits. People can come out and make-believe with us and celebrate two iconic artists and sing ‘til they’re hoarse.”


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