I'm a freelance actor, travel writer, photographer, foodie and attention seeker living in the lower North Shore. Check out my blog at www.emmajaneexplores.com for more.
It's a kind of magic
Queen has taken over the Hornsby RSL this week with an energetic and enthusiastic production of We Will Rock You The Musical. It's an all singing, all dancing take on all the English band's classic songs and the packed Showroom ate the show up (even singing along at times).
The plot of We Will Rock You is deliberately silly and tongue in cheek, referencing as many musicians and song titles as possible. We are introduced to a dystopian society where a huge global corporation dictates to the youth what they can and can't do, say, wear and listen to. Rock music is banned. It's here that we meet Galileo, a dreamer who doesn't fit in and Scaramouche, a sassy mouthed loner looking for someone to love her as she is. The two are faced with a choice - fit in and live an unoriginal and stale existence or escape and join a rebel group of bohemians and bring music and individuality back to the world.
The show starts strongly with an impressive futuristic set and powerhouse opening songs from both Josh Brown as Galileo and Jenna Woolley as Scaramouche. It does lose a bit of momentum from there throughout the first act, but does regain it in the second as the storyline ties up.
Director Tamer Morris has brought together a strong ensemble and put together a cohesive show. There are some questionable design elements (i.e. the costuming disconnect between the Global Soft pastel army, the punk-gothic dance troupe and the kimono-clad Killer Queen) but overall the show is a lot of fun. Musical Director Matthew Herne's talents are demonstrated beautifully in the water-tight ensemble work throughout the show, with the closing Bohemian Rhapsody being an absolute highlight. The band are invigorating and really help to create the atmosphere of a rock concert. Choreographer Rebecca Savage's finest moments are executed by featured dancer Fiorella Bamba, although at times some of the ensemble choreography seems a little overused.
The sound, unfortunately, is what really lets this opening night performance down. Too often actors begin to sing and sound cues are missed or mics are not at a level where the vocals can be heard over the powerful band. The ensemble numbers are fine, it's just the solo songs that need some more attention and I'm hoping that the team are able to sort this out for the next four shows. The lighting rig is extensive but not utilised to its full effect with repetitive effects and predictable lighting states that a lot of the time do not compliment the show. From the audience, it seems that this show had a sizeable technical budget and unfortunately this is the area that lets the showdown.
Josh Brown's vocals are remarkable in his performance as Galileo Figaro. His voice is crisp and clear and he hits every note effortlessly. In the acting department, he's okay but doesn't quite elevate his performance to match that of his romantic interest Jenna Woolley as Scaramouche. Woolley is an absolute revelation as Scaramouche - her voice is seemingly flawless and her acting is spot on. Woolley and Brown work well together, with a particular highlight being their emotional rendition of "Who Wants To Live Forever".
Josh Brown as Galileo, Paul Mepham as Buddy and Jenna Woolley as Scaramouche
Annastasia Denton as the Killer Queen has the voice but lacks some of the prowess and authority that this character requires. Boshko Maksimovic as her righthand man Kashoggi is solid, and he sings nicely but probably needed to go even further with his characterisation. Abi Smith as Oz delivers an impressive and well-rounded performance with an absolute highlight being her "No One But You (Only The Good Die Young)". Tim Selby's gravelly-voiced Brit is pitchy at times, but his energy and excellent partner work with Abi Smith definitely spices up the end of Act 1. Paul Mepham's Buddy is delightful and when he finally gets the chance to sing "These Are The Days Of Our Lives" - it's truly beautiful.
We Will Rock You was written to be a fun, funny and rocking good time musical and Hornsby Musical Society have certainly captured the essence of this in their production.