Music by Queen
Star Casino, Pyrmont
Season: 5 May – 26 June
Music is a largely unexplainable phenomenon, responsible for shaping cultural expression throughout generations. Continually evolving and affecting listeners in different ways, the forces of auto tune and carefully curated pop stars have undeniably changed the face of mainstream music in recent years. Some music lovers dip into nostalgia, remembering a different era of music where rock was free and truly meant something special to music makers and revellers. Queen stand out as a rock group unafraid to pioneer new frontiers and express themselves to their fullest capacity, in turn enabling their fans to do the same. We Will Rock You the Musical is an excellent homage to Queen and their wildly diverse music, and furthermore says something about the state of the music industry today through an engaging storyline and electric performances by the entire cast.
The musical takes place in the year 2350, peering into the future iPlanet where live music is banned and only carefully selected pop music is disseminated in the public by an all-powerful Globalsoft corporation. Individualism and personal expression is dead. It’s been replaced by an uncritical and unquestioning consumption of trends signified by the gaggle of ‘Gaga kids’ that dominate the generation of the day. A boy named Galileo hears voices in his dreams and he can’t get them out of his head, wondering what it all means – audiences recognise an abundance of famous rock and pop lyrics that feed into an amusing running joke. Could this boy be the Dreamer of the prophecy that will bring the return of rock music? A recalcitrant of the times, we meet Scaramouche, the defiant female protagonist played by Erin Clare. Clare stole the show for me as a confident, competent and spunky girl refusing to assimilate to the bounds society tries to confine her within. Ruling the Globalsoft Corporation is the Killer Queen, insistent that all remnants of rock music are eliminated, including the Bohemian people who refuse to abide by the way of the Gaga kids. Casey Donovan absolutely owns this role, exuding evil and sass as she is completely consumed by her own power. Donovan sure has come a long way since her days in Australian Idol.
It is admirable that the writer, Ben Elton, has managed to create a decent storyline to incorporate all of the favourite Queen songs. It’s largely predictable, and yet it is funny and gives the audience exactly what they want. But let’s be honest, the storyline is a mere vessel for the music of Queen to be performed, and this is where the production really shines. Freddie Mercury was renowned for his four-octave vocal range and for writing a spanning variety of songs, many which are technically very difficult to pull off. The musical is jam-packed with talent and the whole cast perform the music with energetic vigour, creating a seismic sound. This musical capability is achieved in addition to dynamic choreography, ranging from robust and slick ensemble work to a celebration of individual freedom, completely letting go. The result is simply electric.
The performers in this musical are tireless, producing an infectious energy that audiences can’t refuse. You’ll be pleased to hear that Queen music will be stuck in your head days after you leave the theatre, basking in the nostalgia of the incredible legacy Queen paved in music history. At the end of the performance, in the midst of fervent hand clapping and foot-stomping cheer, the cast received a well-deserved standing ovation. They weren’t lying when they said “We Will Rock You”.