We Will Rock You
In Association With Queen Theatrical Productions, Phil McIntyre Entertainment
& Tribeca Theatrical Productions
QPAC Lyric Theatre
July 10 – August 20 2016
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
Both on and back stage the Australian musical theatre community is quite simply second to none…
We Will Rock You isn’t just a title, it’s a promise.
The time is the future, in a place that was once called Earth. Globalisation is complete.
We Will Rock You has strong Australian roots. Some of the book was written in Fremantle and some of the enduring memories of the show for many in this country at least, are the characters created by Amanda Harrison (Oz) and Michael Falzon (Galileo) in the original Australian production. Prior to its first season here though, the show ran for 12 years in London and continues, somewhat inexplicably, to tour internationally. To the consternation of many critics, audiences love Ben Elton’s Queen musical!
The global obsession with this show can’t be attributed to its wafer thin book or its sparse set, which – for this tour at least – comprises Grease style bleachers, and a massive screen beneath a rock concert lighting rig. The lighting at least is impressive.
The stars of this show are few but they are big, bold technicolor characters; larger than life and unforgettable. I love Erin Clare (Scaramouche) and Jaz Flowers (Oz) – we saw them both in Heathers – and MD David Skelton’s musicians: a 12-piece hard-core rock band that hangs out on the mezzanine and successfully bring Queen’s songs to life. Strangely, Don’t Stop Me Now is omitted…can anyone explain that?
Jaz Flowers, with her powerhouse vocals and fierce energy effortlessly steals the show. When Flowers is on stage I can’t take my eyes off her. She is well matched in energy by Thern Reynolds, as the amusingly misnamed Britney Spears.
As the sassy Scaramouche Erin Clare shines. Is she not the most exciting next big thing?She’s gorgeous in this gutsy role and doesn’t shy away from the character’s rebellious nature; in fact, she relishes it. She even brings some sweetness and light to Somebody to Love and You’re My Best Friend (added to this reincarnation of the show) without losing the full extent of her vocal power or a tough chick exterior. Gareth Keegan appears to put a slightly gentler spin than expected on Galileo, The Dreamer, but it works well enough and together the pair creates some super cute romantic moments, whilst maintaining the sense of rebellion the show demands. It’s this real rockstar energy that drives the show and to their credit, it never feels as if the company is trying too hard.
It’s a strong ensemble, young and cute; they’re our rising stars, but they don’t get much to work with here. They must wonder what-the-what they’re doing from time to time, surrounding Killer Queen (a killer thriller Casey Donovan) with Simply Irresistible attitudes and hot pink feather dusters in hand and who knows where else, but at least they’re committed.
Brian Mannix has little to do in Act 1 but comes into his own after Interval with some of the show’s best one-liners. Perfectly cast, he has as much fun as we do. And that’s key to the success of this show. We Will Rock You is about disregarding everything manipulative and oppressive in our world, and finding the fun and irreverence in every moment. It’s a little reminder to keep our hold over technology, our independence from industry, religion and state, and hearts pumping with our favourite ancient smash hit rock song lyrics.
Featuring some of the best real rock music of all time, with its mass appeal spanning multiple generations, We Will Rock You is a bold, proud crowd pleaser.