‘We Will Rock You’ was flash.
In 1973, Queen burst into the unsuspecting music scene. From that moment on, John Deacon, Roger Taylor, Brian May and the powerful Freddie Mercury changed and evolved what contemporary music could be. Queen the band was lush, heavy, moving, soulful. But one thing they could never be was boring. That is what Ipswich Musical Theatre Company explores in their latest production, ‘We Will Rock You’.
Ben Elton and Queen’s Orwellian musical is set in Planet Mall, the grandiose cybernetic remains of Planet Earth. The virtual company, Globalsoft, dominated by the Killer Queen, has banned all non-computer music. Though many brainwashed conformists “play the game” set by their master, there are those who want to rock! Galileo and Scaramouche are among those who “want to break free”, which guides them to the Bohemians at the Heartbreak Hotel. Together, they try to overthrow Globalsoft at the place of Champions with the Axe and the forbidden riff.
The technical team must’ve felt the pressure pushing down on them with this mammoth undertaking, and yet, they elevated the show. Craig Wilkinson, Jake Lodder, Jordan Pena and Optikal Bloc masterfully set the story with the harrowing opening montage. The use of technology carried the dystopian disarray throughout the show. Lighting Design by Owen Forsyth created much hot space within the musical. Lighting began with a stone-cold crazy display at the beginning and then utilised an expert use of monotone and bombastic colours.
Set and Prop Design by Alison Drew, Susan Glosko, Jacob Olsen and Simon Drew teared it up. The realistic set pieces impressed the audiences, from the Heartbreak Hotel to the gnarly motorcycle. Costuming by Mary Slattery, Rhonda Clarke and Delma Odger weaved a kind of magic within; exploring band ideology to rocking expression was a visual highlight.
Direction by Thomas Armstrong-Robley delivered. The blocking allowed a natural element mostly, yet the blocking at the end of Act One felt like a scandal, with great elements of surprise. The use of space created desolation and liberation throughout. The contrast between comedy and drama never felt out of place. Armstrong-Robley dove headlong in paying respect to Queen and modern times of rock n’ roll by blending many different theatre styles flawlessly.
Robert Clark’s task of matching Queen’s large musical legacy is no easy feat, but Clark’s musical direction rocked. The music drove the show masterfully; from matching harmonies to epic riffs and high notes. Choreography by Simon Lind and Elizabeth Lang entertained as well, with uniformed and stylish expressions entertaining the audience throughout.
As a whole, the cast delivered lively performances. Adam Goodall as the dreaming leader, Galileo, who wants it all, was a likeable rebel. Bronte Mitchell shined as the nonconforming chick, Scaramouche, who wants to “breakthru” the uniformed, sexist society. Kaitlyn Maxwell as the death on two legs, Killer Queen, bombastically flourished her manic villainous dominance with a blistering performance.
James Burton as the evil man on the prowl, Khashoggi, created a subtle level of unease with his composed manner. Tristan James as the cool cat dude, Brit, perfectly delivered comedic gags with a charming performance. Georgia Spark as the sweet lady, Oz, did an outstanding job of exploring joy and grief and taking the audience on a journey through her performance.
Adrian Carr as the wise, free-thinking rocker, Buddy, and stole the show with their comedic and heart-warming performance. Carr, alongside the ensemble, packed a punch in this piece. Their body language, comedic gags, energetic dancing and wonderful harmonies left an impression.
Elton’s musical on the surface could appear to have one vision – to pay respect to Queen by throwing their greatest hits and musical puns together. But what Ipswich Musical Theatre Company has shown is that this piece explores and cherishes creativity. ‘We Will Rock You’ wonderfully takes the audience on a layered journey, in a true nod to the champions of rock music who wanted it all.
‘We Will Rock You’ performs until Sunday, 18 September 2022 at the Ipswich Civic Centre. For more information visit Ipswich Musical Theatre Company’s website.