Friday, May 6, 2016

We Will Rock You Review - The Musical By Queen and Ben Elton

*Sponsored by We Will Rock You and Nuffnang, but 100% Peachy!
Professional photography from We Will Rock You Australia

Growing up as a kid in a fundamentalist Christian home I didn’t have the opportunity to listen to rock music, Christian or secular. It was not allowed. My dad thought he was funny by saying “Rock and roll can just rock and roll out the door of this house.” My 5 year old brain would just imagine a rock rolling out the door, not really understanding what I was missing until I was about 11 years old.

In a pile of my parent’s old records, I discovered a Christian children’s record to put on our record player. It was about a lion, the king of the jungle, swinging from tree to tree. It sounded a bit Elvis-like, not that I would have known that then. I used to play it on repeat and thrash around the lounge room, jumping off the lounges and doing air-guitar. When I was 13 I was able to buy a walk-man and then sneakily buy my first cassette tapes, or record off the radio on dad’s blank tapes (that he reserved for sermons) when my parents weren’t around. Music was my escape.

That's me back in 2001
It wasn’t until year (grade) 9, when I was sitting in Ms Saba’s Spanish class, (which incidentally was filled with all the mean cool kids), that I heard my second ever Queen Lyric. (The first would be over-hearing We Will Rock You sung on the TV for every Canucks ice-hockey game my Dad watched. And he watched every single f*cking one). Anyone at our school who attended her classes thought she was a bit nuts and high strung, and my older sisters spoke better Spanish than she did. 
One day, one of the cheeky class clowns really got on her nerves. She sent him to the principal’s office. The class laughed at this and were being difficult to manage. Soon another boy was sent. Martina, one of the nicer cool girls, shouted out “Another one bites the dust.” Everyone laughed some more. Ms Saba was royally pissed off by this point and sent Martina to the office too. 

That act of rebellion stuck with me, as did those lyrics, even though I wasn’t to know until many years later that there was a song by Queen with those exact words. My husband was the one who really got me into Queen’s music. Songs I’d heard over the years that were like a soundtrack to our lives finally belonged to a band, and I could listen to them all at once. I used to belt out “Mama, I just killed a man” at the top of my lungs in my teenage girl bedroom without even knowing that was a Queen cover I was obsessed with. 

Rebellion, misfit, singer, sneaking music, and finding my voice and my place in the world all have parallels to the story told by the Queen and Ben Elton Musical We Will Rock YouI was lucky enough to see it this week at the Sydney Lyric Theatre.  This London musical has been seen over 3600 times in the UK with the same amount of standing ovations. It’s won an Olivier Award, and has been crowned the UK’s favourite show. Judging by the standing ovation it received last night I would say it would be well on its way to becoming one of Australia’s favourites as well. I can believe why it had 6 million tickets sold in the UK alone. 

This futuristic story is set in 2350. It’s a time when synthesized pop rules the iPlanet and live music is banned. Two of the characters, played by Gareth Keegan and Erin Clare, who don’t fit the music corporation’s mold, join up and rebel against the corporate power, Globalsoft. It’s run by the Killer Queen, which was played by the outstanding Casey Donovan. They join up with a group of misfits and rebels and together they piece together missing parts of music history and uncover a musical mystery.

I was amazed by the crisp, clean sounds of the band and brilliant harmonies of the cast. I couldn’t believe how fabulous the sound was in the Lyric Theatre. It’s an acoustic dream in there. I also wasn’t expecting it to be so humorous, and to make so many other band and song references. Even the costumes were out there and fun too. I made a comparison in my head with that website People of Walmart. There were just some crazy costumes that most people wouldn’t be caught dead in out in public except for the ‘People of Walmart.’ 
I mean look at this comparison...

I know, right! 

And this character, Buddy played by Brian Mannix, who reminds of the dog rockstar on the UK kid’s show Bookaboo.

I loved how they tied the Queen songs into the jokes, the puns and the story. It just added to the larger than life - thrill ride. Of course I was sitting next to a huge Queen fan. The guy beside me had a hard time not singing along with the cast on a few occasions. In my head I secretly begged for him to desist so I could enjoy the professionals. I can totally see why he was tempted. I mean, this cast screamed for crowd participation. You wanted to get up, pull out your air guitar and head bang with them. That’s the kind of show it was, (still only suited for the 13 and up crowd  though).
Anyone remember Guido? Well that character in front sounded just like him. Hilarious bogan.
We Will Rock You is playing in Sydney from now until June 26th until it moves on to the next major Australian city. You don’t have to be a die-hard Queen fan to love this musical but why aren’t you? Clearly I’ve made up for the lack of secular music in my life since my early childhood and loved this show! I’d say it’s must see!

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