‘We Will Rock You’ was crowd-pleasing.
With music and lyrics by Queen and a book by Ben Elton, ‘We Will Rock You’ is a jukebox musical written for a very specific audience. In fact, in order to enjoy this show, one needs to be both a fan of Queen’s music and the play-to-the-crowd British style of humour. Elton’s story follows a mob of rock-music-loving rebels in a futuristic world, in which the genre is forbidden, and they must unite to overthrow the powers that be.
Often cited as having a weak book and a thin storyline, ‘We Will Rock You’ still has an ability to translate, regardless of its critical reception. The musical is a good fit for the demographic that frequents the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre. The venue prides itself on tribute shows and never ceases to pull a crowd. As a result, the audience is able to look past the disjointed script, and enjoy the vibrant and diverse collection of Queen classics sprinkled throughout the show.
In what appears to be the overarching style for Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s shows this year, the set of ‘We Will Rock You’ remained minimal with a concealed band and large LED screens. Conceptually the use of technology helped emphasise the futuristic setting of the storyline.
Whilst the initial dialogue in the show seems to suggest that the fictional world is full of conservatively dressed conformists with no individuality, the costuming and makeup do not reflect this. Killer Queen, cleverly portrayed by Naomi Drogemuller, is the antagonist of the show, and yet she and her minions are dressed in rock inspired attire. This makes them difficult to distinguish from the very rebels they are trying to control. Where there are opportunities for contrast, they are missed. However, this aesthetic decision is not unusual for productions of this show, and may instead be done to highlight the hypocrisy of those in charge.
If Becky the bird, from ‘Finding Dory’, were a rock music saviour from the future, she would be Timothy Kennedy in his humorous performance as Galileo. Kennedy plays to the crowd well and is able to move the story along with his energetic storytelling. Whilst, for the most part, Kennedy has a good grasp on his vocal ability, his attempts at vocal gymnastics sometimes distract from the quality of his singing.
Without stealing focus, Kaley Jones is perfect in her role as Galileo’s partner in crime, Scaramouche. Jones’ vocal work is some of the most appealing and controlled in the show, and she manages to conquer the specific accent and inflections needed to honestly deliver the show’s style of comedy.
Some of the strongest scene work comes from John Chant and Tiffany Payne, in their respective roles as Britney and Oz. These triple threat performers are a breath of fresh air in a show with many busy ensemble numbers. Their vocals blend well, their dancing is impressive, and they are able to deliver chemistry that trumps many of the other relationships in the show.
A very large ensemble makes for some interesting crowd scenes and challenging transitions. At times there are so many performers on stage that they are unable to move with unified purpose, and as a consequence, the meaning behind their presence is lost. This considered, many of the dance numbers, choreographed by Kaley Jones and Zac Crisan, are enjoyable to watch.
Connor Chadwick and Sharyn Donoghue are performance highlights, with unparalleled energy and focus. The two actors set the bar high for the remainder of the ensemble, who seem to hold back on their energy until the closing numbers.
Musical Director and guitarist, Lachy Stewart, is in his element with this score. One of the highlights and most energetic moments of the show is the bows. The band became a focal point during the final numbers, and rightly so. Whilst the audio is sometimes unbalanced, the band is consistent in their precision and energy throughout the evening. Both Stewart and the band are a perfect fit for tackling the soundtrack.
‘We Will Rock You’ is not everyone’s cup of tea, but Redcliffe Musical Theatre does well to capture their audience, who sing along and clap until the end. The music is the greatest strength of the show, and Redcliffe Musical Theatre has been strategic in their crowd-pleasing selection of this tribute to Queen.
‘We Will Rock You’ performed until Sunday, 3 March 2019 at the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre. To see upcoming shows by Redcliffe Musical Theatre, visit http://www.redcliffemusicaltheatre.com.