Tag: Casey Donovan

Melbourne 2016: WE WILL ROCK YOU

Yes, they will

By Jessica Cornish

In true Melbourne style, the first evening of Spring was ushered in by cold wind and rain, but this was no deterrent to the buzzing opening night crowd of We Will Rock You at the Regent Theatre. The show was incredibly vibrant, energetic and visually spectacular.

We Will Rock You.jpg

We Will Rock You utilises the well-known music of Queen to tell the quirky story of a society that is becoming more and more virtual, with the looming presence of Global Soft trying their best to stamp out all forms of bohemian life and of course the dreaded music of rock and roll. Despite the evil corporation’s best efforts, a small group of rebels strive for a world reunited through classic British rock.

Director Ben Elton, musical director Dave Skelton and choreographer Arlene Phillips combined forces to create a powerhouse production team. This creative strength was further complimented by a mesmerising lighting design by Willie Williams and excellent scenic design by Mark Fisher as the entire show being incredibly punchy and dynamic owed much to a set and lighting rig that was constantly moving. Box truss, LED screens and scaffolding flew in and out throughout the evening and the lighting rig was robust and well-planned. The show was consistently visually exciting and the stage looked stunning: there was even some pyro and confetti thrown into the mix, so no complaints here.

Bobby Aitken’s sound design was forceful, clear and generally well balanced. A couple of times the female vocals were drowned out in the mix by their male counterparts, although this could also be in part due to the challenging low vocal range the female performers were required to perform in the occasional bottom-heavy (pun intended) Queen songs.

Equally strong were the lead cast members and ensemble. They were all terrific triple-threat performers that were on the ball all night. Relative musical-theatre newcomer female lead Erin Clare (Scaramouche) sang beautifully and seemed to slip effortlessly in to the rebellious role. However, I felt her male counterpart Gareth Keegan (Galileo) lacked a contemporary edge to his performance which made him seem slightly wooden and not as believable as the dreamy love interest. Other leads, Jaz Flowers (Oz) and her muscly counterpart Thern Reynolds (Brit) did not miss a beat and were a pleasure to watch. Every movement and note was perfectly executed. Former 80’s rocker Brian Mannix (Buddy) was well received by the crowd and performed well however it was the former Australian Idol champion Casey Donovan who stole the show. She was – hands down – the standout performer of the evening as the glorious Killer Queen. She was charismatic and demanded attention every moment she was on stage. She gave an incredibly strong performance, and I couldn’t take my eyes off this bodacious babe, particularly in her rendition of fat bottomed girls framed by an array of women in leather and pink feather dusters.

We Will Rock You does not disappoint. It is a great starting point into the world of theatre, especially for the younger audience and of course all those with a love for Queen, and an impressively dynamic show that is both well-polished and well-executed. How can you pass this up?!





Image by Jeff Busby


Welcome to the 60s…

By Maxine Montgomery

Flowerchildren traces the ups and downs of 60s group The Mamas and The Papas, and  recaptures the freedom of an era along the way. This new musical is an engaging journey through the pivotal moments and inner dynamics in the life of the group.

Writer Peter Fitzpatrick has crafted a show that captures all of the success, betrayal, passion and regret experienced by the four singers. The narration element is used well to allow each character to express their take on a particular happening, and then to fit into the scene described.

The central cast were remarkable. Each is a fabulous singer in his/her own right – combined, they created the iconic sound and tight harmonies of The Mamas and The Papas flawlessly. Casey Donovan as Mama Cass was quite the surprise of the evening. I was in no doubt that she could sing the role, but it was fabulous to see her more than hold her own in the company of three seasoned performers. Donovan’s comic timing was apparent (she had the line of the night – I will never again see a muumuu in quite the same way!) and also her ability to give gravitas and commitment to the more heartbreaking moments.

Matt Hetherington was brilliant as Papa John. He gave the role all the charisma and edge required to bring the songwriter to life. His rendition of “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers)” was, for me, a highlight of the night – his vocals gave the piece sweetness and desperation all at once.

Dan Humphris, as Papa Denny, has a beautiful voice with great range and the technique to use it to his best advantage. I particularly enjoyed the scenes he shared with Papa John – it is clear that the actors have a close camaraderie as this came through on stage. Laura Fitzpatrick as Mama Michelle was perfectly cast as the woman every man wanted. Her final monologue was moving and very affecting.

Mention must go to Jessica Featherby as Jill – she was the right mix of perky and whiny that made you love to hate her.

The set, designed by Christina Logan-Bell, is simple and uncluttered. It meant that the focus was on the actors instead of involved scene changes. Sophie Thomas leads a small, tight band which complements the singers very well.

Flowerchildren is worthy of a very successful premiere season – great music and strong performances put it in the ‘must-see’ category. The season runs till September 10th so get down to Theatre Works in St Kilda for a trip to the 60s.

Tickets available through www.theatreworks.org.au