Above: Will Toft and ensemble. Below: Ebony Hamacek . Bottom: Natalie Mead
We will Rock You
By Ben Elton
Music and Lyrics by Queens
Direction and concepts by John Boyce, Row Blackshaw, Aaron Griffiths, and Will Toft
Brisbane Arts Theatre
Season: June 2-July 28. Bookings: www.artstheatre.com.au or (07) 3369 2344
This is definitely one for Queen Fans: the opening night audience was filled with them and they loved it. One liked it so much he wrote a poem about it! But it wasn’t Queen hits that drew me to the show it was the fact that the script had been written by Ben Elton, one of my favourite writers.
We Will Rock You is set in a distant future where everyone dresses, thinks and acts the same; musical instruments and composers are forbidden, and rock music is all but unknown. It tells the story of a group of Bohemians who struggle to restore the free exchange of thought, fashion, and live music. Elton’s script is quirkily apocalyptical similar to his play Gasping and his characters are just as quirky. The rebels meet in an old Hard Rock café and have some hilarious pronunciations
of “ancient” devices like a Vid-ayo casette. Here clothing is radical compared to the citizens in their black and white outfits and they have renamed themselves after rock stars of the past. Like a wildly rockin’ long-haired Liam McDonall’s peripatetic Brit (Spears) and Mark Tuohy’s bikie-look Buddy (Holly)
Galileo, played somewhat frenetically by Will Toft is a misfit who hears voices, remnants of old song lyrics and other musical blasts from the past. He meets another misfit – a girl he names Scaramouche played by Ebony Hamacek – and together they make this musical journey through the Queen hits.
It features 24 songs including We Are the Champions, Radio Ga Ga, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Somebody to Love, Killer Queen, Under Pressure, Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites The Dust.
It’s a big show for a small theatre with seven main roles and a 17-piece ensemble that had to sing and dance. And sing and dance they did. Excellently, with some excellent choreography from Michelle Radu, which kept the dancers in tight formation on the small stage.
There are some powerful voices in the cast Will Toft and Katie Routson had some lovely duets when their voices blended beautifully. Natalie Mead belted ‘em out too as Killer Queen, head of the I-planet.
Many of the songs I didn’t know, but the script and the oddball characters kept me interested.
The show was off to a shaky start. It was ten minutes late opening and there was some hesitancy and nerves from the actors and off-key singers. This continued for much of the opening act which ran for more than an hour,
After interval however the cast settled down, characters grew and singer gained confidence and there were some lovely harmonies. Good work from musical director Brady Watkins.
This increase in confidence shone through for the finale where Will Toft and Ebony Hamacek came into their own with powerful duets in the BIG songs; songs that even I knew and loved - We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions and Bohemian Rhapsody.
It was a great finish and gave a hint as what the rest of the season could turn out to be.