‘We Will Rock You’ was electric.
Don’t stop Spotlight now, ’cause they’ve just opened the Gold Coast’s most killer rock show!
‘We Will Rock You’ is a jukebox musical, written by British comedian Ben Elton, honouring the music of Queen and the legacy of rock. The story takes place in a dystopian future where rock music is all but unknown. The governing semi-computer body, Killer Queen, has banned music to create a cyber-centered world where everyone looks, thinks and acts the same. While the plot is simple and wacky, it is clear the book is written by a comedian. The script is packed to the punch with sly references and laugh-a-minute jokes which, combined with music from one of the world’s greatest bands, makes for a rocking night of entertainment.
It’s always a bold move for the director to take part in the on-stage action, but for the most part, Clay English nailed it. No stranger to this musical, and with a strong creative team alongside him, including associate choreographer Laura English and musical director Shari Willner, English managed to keep the momentum flowing and packed a punch where needed.
One of the standout features from this show was the incredible AV design by English on an 8 x 2-metre LED screen upstage that provided the backdrop for the performance. From simple scene setting, to words, to a live feed of video calls and footage streamed from a smartphone in the computerised world, it truly set the scene of a robotic, dystopian future.
The lighting design, also by English, was the other major aesthetic drawcard in this production. Classic rock concert strobe flashes were highly utilised which aligned with the score and gave the show a big jolt of adrenaline. Colours neatly complemented each setting: from the sterile whites in the hospital/laboratory to deep reds of the Killer Queen’s abode. And of course, with this being the music of Queen, the show would be incomplete without the use of the iconic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ spotlights.
Clay and Laura English’s choreography skillfully built and heightened the atmosphere of each scene. From the uncomfortably precise and glossy Gaga Girls who opened the show, to the spirited bohemians who flowed through their movements with a strong rock impetus, the team perfectly captured the essence of each scene. Laura English’s impressive costume design further immersed the audience in each of the worlds in the show.
Musical director Shari Wilner captured everything you would want from a rock show. With Wilner on keys and conducting, the rest of the band (consisting of Peter Lavrencic on drums, Alex Fox on bass guitar and Ryan Stegman on guitar), relished this rocking show and soulfully played out Queen’s best tunes.
Unfortunately, with the wet weather, there were a few sound difficulties throughout the show. The most jarring for an audience was the band often overpowering the singers, especially if it was solely an ensemble number in which not all the performers were mic’d. However, I’m sure this is a mishap that will be remedied throughout the season.
As the two leads, Galileo and Scaramouche, Jack Harbour and Georgia Beck did a wonderful job of leading the company. As the young dreamer, Harbour commanded rocking vocals and humorously churned out the many lyric references with suitable naivety. Beck was, without a doubt, one of the standout performances of this show. Her gorgeous vocal tone soared through the Queen tracks and she added a unique level to each of her performances. Whilst the British accent had its moments, her sarcastic British humour was perfection and her incredibly dry delivery of comic lines consistently had the audience in stitches.
Samantha Sherrin as Killer Queen was a rock goddess. She dominated the stage and her performance of ‘A Kind of Magic’ alongside her right-hand man Khashoggi (Sean Curran) complete with ensemble dancers and a moving staircase was astounding. As the menacing Khashoggi, Curran was another performance highlight. His comic timing was unmatched and every time he stepped on stage was a scene to look forward to.
English’s onstage role, Brit, the leader of the Bohemians, demonstrated a whole deal of passion for his cause and some very slick dance moves. As his partner Oz, Samantha Price gave a captivating rendition of ‘No-one But You (Only the Good Die Young)’.
Rounding out the show, the ensemble were the driving force behind many of the numbers. It was clear each actor had tried to carve a unique character to help build the rock world. The specialty dancers in particular injected a whole lot of momentum with their movements and made the show feel complete. A particular nod to Jennifer Gilbert who was always completely committed to every scene.
The whole team behind ‘We Will Rock You’ should be commended for putting on a euphoric show guaranteed to make Queen your upcoming most played artist.
Spotlight’s ‘We Will Rock You’ has got the Goldie going GaGa until the 11th of June, for information or tickets visit their website.
Photos by Vargo Studios