Producers of the new Australian production of the worldwide smash hit musical We Will Rock You, John Frost, Queen Theatrical Productions, Phil McIntyre Entertainment and Tribeca Theatrical Productions, announced their exciting cast in Sydney over the weekend. Theatrepeople were at the announcement and spoke to some of the cast about their new rock adventure.

Gareth Keegan (Jersey Boys, MTC’s Next to Normal, Hugh Jackman – Broadway to Oz concerts) will play the central role of Galileo, a Bohemian dreamer who hears strange song lyrics in his head and is ultimately the reincarnation of Freddie Mercury. Erin Clare (Heathers, The Phantom of the Opera) will be Scaramouche, a sarcastic, cynical Bohemian misfit with sharp wit who wins Galileo’s heart and is the reincarnation of Brian May, only this time “he’s a babe”.

Keegan is ready to rock out and be a rock star and has even bought some tight underwear to help him hit those high notes! His favourite Queen song is “Who Wants to Live Forever” as it has great lyrics and is very theatrical. ““Under Pressure” is also even more sentimental now, given the recent loss of David Bowie. People are going to reflect on these two great artists that we have lost.” commented Keegan.

Clare is looking forward to launching the music of Queen (said sarcastically) and says her car is sick of hearing the arena spectacular recording being played. One of her favourite Queen songs is “Bohemian Rhapsody” which she considers an absolute masterpiece, although admits to being confused when she first heard it at twelve years old. But she also a big fan of “Someone to Love”, which is her characters first big song in the show.

I asked them if there was anything about the audition process or show that made them nervous. They both responded with “No!”. Keegan followed with “We went through most of the audition process together, so it has been pretty easy as we had great chemistry”. As for the show itself, they are both looking forward to giving the audience different aspects of their characters to play with, as they are both “ballsy”.

“Both characters are really exciting. They fight, they fuel each other’s fire they banter but they can’t live without each other” said Clare. Keegan also commented “What I love about these two is that every scene isn’t about ‘oh I love you’. It’s not your traditional love story so we aren’t going to get bored doing it.”

Clare had a great note from director Ben Elton in the audition room. He commented “I’ve never seen anyone made that choice, but I love it”. Now we all have to wait to see what that choice is.

The cast of We Will Rock You, photo by Bronwyn Cook

The cast of We Will Rock You, photo by Bronwyn Cook

Brian Mannix, formerly the lead singer of 1980s band Uncanny X-Men, will return to the musical stage as Buddy, an old hippy librarian/philosopher and an expert on the lost sacred musical texts. Killer Queen, a ruthless and power-crazy businesswoman who rules the world through Globalsoft, the worldwide corporation responsible for the suppression of all live music and all original thought, will be played by the extraordinary Casey Donovan (The Sapphires, Rent).

Mannix is absolutely thrilled to be part of this show. “I love Queen songs and the cast seem like nice people, we are going to have a lot of fun”. Like Clare, Mannix also impressed Elton during the casting process, garnishing the comment of “I can’t believe that just happened” from the director. This isn’t his first foray into musical theatre, but the role of Buddy (also known as Pop in other productions) is pretty close to Mannix’s heart “He is an old hippy rock dog that reckons music today is crap and it was better in the old days. Shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for me”.

When asked about how does it feel to be making the changeover from a recording artists to a big musical show, Donovan said “theatre is such a different, nerve wracking, anxiety-prone thing, but I love it actually, it’s exciting”. As Killer Queen Donovan dons leather coats, big hair, towering boots – you name it – “plus the boobs and the teeth – it’s got everything!”. Donovan lit up the room during her audition process.

Thern Reynolds (Rock of Ages, South Pacific) and Jaz Flowers (Hairspray, Hot Shoe Shuffle, Fame) will portray Brit and Oz, a pair of Bohemian lovers who strive to rediscover the lost music and rebel against Killer Queen and Globalsoft. And Simon Russell (ABC TV’s Jack Irish, Neighbours) will be Khashoggi, Killer Queen’s second-in-command, the sinister and cruel chief of Globalsoft police in charge of capturing the Bohemians and getting rid of any original or creative musical thoughts.

Reynolds seems destined to have a part to play in any musical with rock in the name, from Rock of Ages, to Rocky Horror Picture Show and now We Will Rock You. When asked if this was part of his grand career plan he replied “no, not at all, how can you plan a career in this business”. He also commented “You try to plan but as soon as you focus your attention on something else you get offered a role like this – why wouldn’t you say yes.”

Simon Russell, Brian Mannix & Thern Reynolds, photo by Bronwyn Cook

Simon Russell, Brian Mannix & Thern Reynolds, photo by Bronwyn Cook

Even though his roles of late have been more creative or behind the scenes, this role is firmly on stage partnering with Flowers. “We’ve never worked together before but we’ve known each other for a few years now”. As soon as the producers saw Reynolds and Flowers together, they knew they didn’t have to go any further to find their Brit and Oz. Luckily for them, Reynolds and Flowers felt the same.

Direct from her critically acclaimed role of Veronica Sawyer in Heathers, Flowers is “now ready to grunge it out and get down with some dirty rock music”. She has been ready to sing some real rock since she graduated is said “it is going to be fabulous to get on stage each night and get amongst it”.

I asked Flowers what she was most excited about for the show. “Obviously getting to sing Queen is just ridiculous, just to be a part of it, this massive musical of epic proportions. This cast is incredible, so talented, I’ve only worked with Erin before, I know everyone obviously, but to work with a new bunch of people – just to smash it out, it’s not your everyday typical, fluffy, musical. It’s gritty – it’s got my name all over it. I said 6 or 8 years ago, WWRY is going to come back to this city and when it does, I’m going to be in it, I will be on that stage, I don’t care how, I’m going to be, and now that that has come to fruition, it’s pretty amazing.”

Flowers saw the London production towards the end of its run in 2012 and remembers when Oz first appeared on stage she thought ““Who is she?”, I don’t know who she is but I need to be like her immediately and BAM, here I am!”

And what is her favourite Queen song? Of course it is her big number in the show “No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)”. In the show, the song is prefaced by characters saying the names of all rock’n’roll icons who have died young. “Just before I sing I actually say ‘Freddie’, which gives me goosebumps just saying it now. It really is a poignant part of the show.”

Jaz Flowers, photo by Bronwyn Cook

Jaz Flowers, photo by Bronwyn Cook

Even though we know Russell from TV, he is absolutely looking forward to his first musical and ris delighted to be part of this incredible cast. “I have an absolutely massive number in this show – “Seven Seas of Rhye” – which has some really interesting lyrics which I’ll be wrapping my head around!” Russell revealed.

Also in the cast are Justin Anderson, Sheridan Anderson, Erinn Arnel, Michelle Barr, Hugh Barrington, Kyla Bartholomeusz, Sarah Clarke, Keane Fletcher, Scott McConnell, Suzie Melloy, Ruvarashe Ngwenya, Morgan Palmer, Joshua Russell, Ryan Sheppard, Leigh Sleightholme, Ashlee Smith, Thalia Smith, Mike Snell, Kate Thomas and Karla Tonkich.

Director Ben Elton claims he has assembled a powerhouse cast of Australian talent. “Australian musical theatre is famous world-wide for the excellence of the artists it produces,” he said. “WE WILL ROCK YOU has featured Australians in productions as far apart as Toronto, London and Berlin. Check a musical cast list on Broadway or in the West End and the chances are you’ll spot an Aussie. Brian, Roger and I know that the new all-Australian cast is second to none.”

The Australian tour of WE WILL ROCK YOU begins at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on 28 April 2016, then travels to the Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane from 10 July; then on to Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from 30 August. Perth’s Crown Theatre follows from November, then the Festival Theatre, Adelaide from January, 2017.

Since 2002 over 15 million theatregoers in 17 countries have been thrilled by this awe-inspiring production which is based on the songs of Queen with a book by Ben Elton (The Young Ones, Blackadder, Popcorn). Elton fashioned this hilarious futurist comedy around more than 24 of Queen’s biggest hit songs including We Are The Champions, Radio Ga Ga, I Want To Break Free, Somebody To Love, Killer Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now, Under Pressure, Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites The Dust and of course, We Will Rock You.

WE WILL ROCK YOU reflects the scale and spectacle that marked Queen’s live performances and earned the band its pinnacle position in rock history. With Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor as music supervisors and “a band without parallel in the theatre” behind the cast, the audience can expect WE WILL ROCK YOU to rock as fiercely as the best of Queen’s concerts.

wewillrockyou.com.au
@ROCKYOUAU

SEASON DETAILS
SYDNEY
Venue: Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star
Season: From 28 April 2016
Performance Times: Tues 7pm, Wed–Sat 8pm, Sat matinee 2pm, Sunday 1pm & 6pm
Price: From $69.90*
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au or 1300 795 267
Groups 8+ call 1300 889 278

BRISBANE
Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Season: From 10 July 2016
Performance Times: Tues–Sat 7.30pm, Sat matinee 2pm, Sunday 1pm & 6pm
Price: From $69.90*
Bookings: qpac.com.au or phone 136 246
Groups 8+ 07 3840 7466

MELBOURNE
Venue: Regent Theatre
Season: From 30 August 2016
Performance Times: Tues 7pm, Wed–Sat 8pm, Sat matinee 2pm, Sunday 1pm & 6pm
Price: From $69.90*
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au or phone 1300 111 011
Groups 8+ call 1300 889 278

PERTH
Venue: Crown Theatre, Burswood
Season: From November 2016
TICKETS ON SALE SOON – WAITLIST NOW FOR PRIORITY BOOKINGS

ADELAIDE
Venue: Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season:From January 2017
TICKETS ON SALE SOON – WAITLIST NOW FOR PRIORITY BOOKINGS

Comments

comments