We Will Rock You is a musical by Queen and Ben Elton. Windmill Theatre Company are the first to present the show in the non-professional arena, and the first non-professional company to perform in the new Bunjil Place Theatre.
The new Bunjil Place Theatre complex is an amazing space for the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Comprising of a full fly tower, orchestra pit and state of the art lighting rig and 800 seats, this theatre is clearly a most welcome addition to the south eastern theatrical landscape.
Taking full advantage of this new space and its technology, director Danny Ginsberg brings a wealth of of experience to give us a production that is full of technical genius. Upon getting my tickets, I was given an electronic wristband that glowed in time to certain numbers in the show. Changing colours and timing, the wrist bands matched those worn by the ensemble and really added a new element to the experience.
The theatre’s proscenium arch is massive and Mike Fletcher’s multi panelled set fit the space beautifully. This was the backdrop for the show,which animated settings were projected onto with great effect throughout the show. Other impressive set pieces included the Killer Queen’s throne, which was made from electric guitars – the throne seemed to float onto the stage from the middle of the panels and was remarkable. The shipping container used as the home for our leads was so authentic I had to question my theatre friend as to its authenticity. The throne design and shipping container design was by Ed Giling.
Vicki Quinn took full advantage of the new sound system, which was faultless throughout the production. Quinn kept a tight rein on her 7-piece band, and it sounded truly amazing. The vocals on whole were great, although there were a few notes missed at the ends of some of the performers ranges. That being said, when you are faced with a score of songs that were sung by Freddie Mercury, it’s understandable that finding a cast that can totally cover the range expected in this production would be near impossible. The sound design was by Conrad Hendricks and was very well balanced – he didn’t allow the band to overpower the vocals, which was great to hear.
It was admirable that Windmill used the technology to project a live telecast of the band and music director from back stage at their point in the bows.
Tess and Mon Sabbatucci’s choreography was very well suited to the production and the ensemble were well drilled, especially with the opening number, which was stunning.
Daniel Gosling’s lighting design matched the sets very well, and we were treated to more of a rock performance lighting design which used lots of blinders on the audience, perhaps a few too many… or maybe I’m just getting old!
We Will Rock You is more of a theatrical experience than a typical musical production and lovers of Queen’s library of works would probably appreciate it more than a Broadway theatre goer.
Galileo Figaro was played by Aidan Niarros to great effect. Niarros has a great voice and he portrayed the ‘dreamer’ to great effect. Jess Ridler as Scaramouche was a standout – her sublime vocals were a delight to listen to and the chemistry between herself and Niarros was excellent.
Verity Rose Brown bought power to the role of Killer Queen, and she attacked all her numbers with a ferocity expected of the Queen and really nailed the role. Scott Reid’s portrayal of Khashoggi was well done, and he nailed the top notes in his songs.
Grace Sabbatucci and Mario Mohorko bought some well-needed comedy relief to the experience and played off each other extremely well. Sabbatucci’s and Mohorko’s vocals blended really well and they sounded excellent in all their numbers.
As well as designing the stunning set, Mike Fletcher was a highlight of act two, his ad-libbing in act two was hilarious and it could be said that he really saved the second act. His vocals were excellent and his years of experience really shone through.
The ensemble worked really hard throughout this production, but it wasn’t until they were the bohemians that they really got to shine on an individual level. I don’t think many people got the Milli Vanilli joke where their lines were mimed, but I thought it was hilarious.
We Will Rock You is set in the future, where shows like The Voice have produced bland popular performers – there is no place for rock and roll, and it is actually banned to create music. The music police arrest anyone who has individual thoughts and they are brain washed by the ‘machine’. It is full of music puns and blindingly bright lighting. The time line at the beginning of the show was well placed, citing that Trump had been impeached and that Kayne West was the new President!
If you love Queen and want to see a very different production in an amazing space We Will Rock You continues at Bunjil Pace until June 24th.