We Will Rock You the musical first came to Melbourne in 2003 and I saw it three times during that season; so when the word came out that they were doing another season this year I quickly asked for tickets for it for my birthday (last year). That’s how certain I was that I would be seeing it again.
I had seen reviews saying that the new season wasn’t all that good. That the lead male (Galileo) struggled to hit his notes. That the show needed to be updated by someone under 40 to lose it’s grumpy old man’s view of the future… basically, the early reviews I saw weren’t overly kind to the show.
Having seen those reviews, and having loved the first run, I went in a little concerned as to how much I’d still love it.
The opening had changed big time, but it was done in a way that made sense to keep it relevant. Gone were the dates of various news items to do with things that happened in music, instead it gave a general overview of the world that we find ourselves within.
Enter Brian Mannix as Pop. He started well, and then as the show went on, got stronger. He seemed to have had a lot of fun playing the older rocker, hippie, historian. Even when it seemed that he forgot where he was up to in some of his dance moves, he was quick to glance at one of the others and got straight back into it without making it seem too obvious (I just happened to be watching him at the time it happened).
Khashoggi’s actor (Simon Russell) grew on me as the show went ahead. He wasn’t a stand out but he wasn’t the weakest performer.
The ensemble playing the GaGa kids (amongst other characters) were bright and energetic.
Then came Galileo (Gareth Keegan), and I kinda cringed. This is what I was worried about. Three bars into the song, my cringing stopped. He actually wasn’t bad. He was hitting his notes, and while he might not have the range needed in some of the songs he was having to sing, he handled it well. The only part where the critics got it right about his singing was in Bohemian Rhapsody (right at the very end of the show).
Unfortunately though, he was paired up with Scaramouche (Erin Clare) who completely overwhelmed him. Her range and stage presence dominated. She was amazing.
People had raved about Casey Donovan as the Killer Queen. I found her to actually be the weakest member of the cast. She screeched and had issues with appearing evil without looking constipated. Harsh, I know. But I struggled the most with her and her songs.
But then there was the bright stars of Brit and Oz (Thern Reynolds and Jaz Flowers). Their enthusiasm and chemistry was amazing. Those two were the best of the show.
As far as material, there were a lot of changes beyond just that of the opening. But it, for most part, worked. It kept it fresh and fun. There were a few song changes, like switching Now I’m Here in for Play the Game; adding in You’re My Best Friend and removing Don’t Stop Me Now.
The part I found lacking the most was actually the use of props and the stage. In the original show, there was parts that raised up, dropped and rotated especially during some of the Killer Queen songs. This one didn’t have that kind of full stage involvement (potentially due to budget constraints? I don’t know). And it kind of took away from it.
If I hadn’t have seen the original show, I would have enjoyed this musical a lot more than I did. But because I noticed the changes and knew what was missing, it distracted a little but for most part, the show delivered where it counted.
My biggest complaint of the whole show was actually the sound balance. At times, I felt I had a headache forming as it was way too loud for the theatre.
Overall though, it was a fun, entertaining evening. Lots of laughs, the ability to join in singing and clapping in time with certain songs was enjoyable. Most of the cast looked to be enjoying themselves and it showed in the performances. Did it live up to the original show? Almost! And that’s good enough for me.
- Score 100%
- Vocals 85%
- Acting 75%
- Story 85%