I'm a freelance writer living in Sydney. I have a Bachelor and Honours degree in Theatre and work also as a freelance director.
Over the weekend, I had the privilege of attending Engadine Musical Society's production of "We Will Rock You" at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre. In short, the show was bright, slick and endlessly entertaining and while it has now sadly come to a close, I hope you'll indulge me in reading this review as the production deserves to be recognised. I urge you to support local community theatre and the talented human beings that grace the stage in Engadine productions and others of its calibre.
Andrew Fabris, Emma Taviani & Cast of We Will Rock You for Engadine Musical Society.
As with most Meg Day and Engadine productions, the set that welcomed us was in itself awe inspiring (I was actually hoping there might be trampoline choreography involved as the circular centre piece brought me back to my childhood). Yet I would soon forget about any such thing as Nikki Newman's robotic choreography filled the stage performed by a group of dedicated and committed ensemble members.
We soon met the young Galileo Figaro, played by the ridiculously talented Andrew Fabris, and we learnt that "We Will Rock You" was less about a serious and moving script and more about having a good time. Joining him as the sassy Scaramouch (scary bush) was Emma Taviani, who is quite likely one of the best performers I've seen to date. The pair delivered a roof raising rendition of "Under Pressure" that may have been my favourite song in the show. Individually, I would purchase tickets to see these two sing anywhere and everywhere, so if you see their names, I suggest you hand over your cash!
With very loose segways, we met The Killer Queen played by Tanya Boyle, who delivered a powerhouse performance in a costume that made be want to roll in glitter and strut down President Ave! Her performance was stunning, and she did not let the questionable script stop her from owning every second of her time on the stage. Her number two/commander, Khashoggi, played by Brad Facey, delivered his text with such dry wit that I nearly lost control of my bladder several times.
Now, social construct led me to be quite confronted by the Killer Queen's act two performance of Fat Bottomed Girls. It was sexually provocative and in your face, and despite being my favourite Queen song, I found my eyebrows at sky level. However, rather than sexually objectifying women, like so much mainstream media has been known to do, this song empowered the Queen at the forefront of it - she had control of everything (including Khashoggi, the man who couldn't follow her simple instructions). I'll let my new found feminist voice take a little breather for a second as I make note that the song was a farcical look at our own reality, like many other tunes in the production. It showed a powerful woman being adorned by many (gender neutral) doting followers through an online reality; not sure where I've seen that of late? Oh, yeah, everywhere. Maybe I just got served a big slice of Meg Day reality pie and unknowingly digested it as I sat in the audience being smacked with talent.
We then met the Bohemians, who emerged from the depths of the intricate set as a perfect contrast to the robotic world of the iPlanet. Jason Oxenham and Lolly Butler delivered amazing performances as Brit and Oz, the leaders of the Bohemian tribe with Greg Hollingsworth really finding his feet in act two as Buddy Holly. The ensemble surrounding them were equally as talented and fully committed to their roles. I found myself wanting to be inside the Hard Rock Cafe with them.
While there were some points where I couldn't quite hear due to a sound balance issue, the majority of the production sounded like the professional recording. I also winced a little watching the performers try to juggle not only delivering their lines, but trying to keep up with timed moving lights as there was no follow spot provided. My personal pet peeve is watching performers sing next to their light, in darkness, but I'm grasping at straws here - the production was on another level.
A special mention needs to go to Adam Ring and Chae Rogan for their professional projections that just really transported the audience to the time and place of this wacky world. Similarly, the lighting perfectly complimented the Globalsoft world. While it may seem pointless in writing this review as the show is already over, I want to ensure that these few things are clear...do yourself a favour, if you see any of the following names, just book your tickets immediately; Meg Day, Andrew Fabris, Emma Taviani, Tanya Boyle, Brad Facey, and Engadine Musical Society.
This show, from the text along, could be seen as an insult toward the incredible legacy that is Queen and Freddy Mercury. However, then you dig a little deeper and realise it was actually written by a British-Australian comedian who is described as being part of an "alternative comedy" movement, and you realise it's a laugh and a half jukebox musical with a two-dimensional story attached. A Community Theatre Society that puts that much love, time, effort and dedication into a production deserves to be seen by all. A cast who commit to the show so wholeheartedly, purely out of their love for performing, deserve to be seen. And while reviews for community theatre productions are controversial at the best of times, I think it's safe to say that you will not be disappointed if you find yourself in the audience of an Engadine production in the future.