Tag: Queen

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?!

VENUE: REGENT THEATRE

SEASON: TO 30 OCTOBER

PERFORMANCE TIMES: TUES 7PM, WED–SAT 8PM, SAT MATINEE 2PM, SUNDAY 1PM & 6PM

BOOKINGS: TICKETMASTER.COM.AU OR PHONE 1300 111 011 GROUPS 8+ CALL 1300 889 278

Image by Jeff Busby

REVIEW: Grant Newsome FROM BOTH SIDES NOW

More concert that cabaret, but an appealing performance

By Maxine Montegomery

“From Both Sides Now” – the Joni Mitchell song title in itself evokes thoughts of inner regret and struggles of the heart.

Grant Newsome’s debut show at The Butterfly Club takes its title from this very song, and sets up an expectation for the audience that they will be taken on an emotional journey with the performer.

Newsome has made a very bold choice in starting the show with Mitchell’s signature song. At the top of a show, we, the audience, know nothing about the person who stands before us – we have no background, no insight to the individual to be able to see the reality of the lyrics as reflected in their own experience. I felt that I was seeing the ‘public face’ of Newsome, rather than seeing the man himself. When he encored the number at the end of the night, he certainly gave the lyrics more candour. The hour-long show was closer in format to concert than solo cabaret, and I couldn’t help but wonder just how much more pathos the song may have carried had Newsome employed his own version of cabaret rhetoric to take the audience into his confidence and bring all the songs together as a whole.

Newsome presented a range of songs that trace the geography of his career, complemented by some of his personal favourites. The audience showed particular appreciation for “Sway”, and a very funky, swung rendition of Doris Day’s “Secret Love”. A fabulous performance of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was heightened by the tremendous work of Newsome’s backing duo – Rowland Braché on piano and Rob Nicholls on double bass. Nicholls’ percussive use of the body of the bass during the Queen number may have been quite simple in execution, but it was a delight to watch and hear. Newsome introduced me (and the rest of the crowd) to a gem of a song called “Nathalie” by Gilbert Bécaud. It was in his delivery of the song that he had me fully engaged, for his telling of the story of the piece was very affecting – as he got caught up in the tale, so did I. “Nathalie” was followed by a tri-language rendition of “What Now, My Love?”. At this point in the night, he seemed to relax somewhat and a little of the showman peeled away, letting us see more of Newsome’s true self.

I would like to see Newsome use his voice to the extent of his technical abilities – he clearly has the ability to produce sustained vocal line, and I wish we had heard more of that from him. I can understand the singer wanting to show off his full vocal range by adding an extended melismatic passage to the end of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, but to then break the title word of the song due to the length of the custom-written phrase was disappointing to hear.

A born showman, Newsome looked the part in his golden-hued suit, and his infectious smile certainly completed the picture. It is very easy to see just how at home he would have been on stage at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.   I have no doubt that he has a whole range of experiences in his life which could be translated into a host of solo cabaret shows in the more intimate and personal sense of the genre suitable for a more intimate venue, and I look forward to seeing what he next creates.

From Both Side Now has its final showing at The Butterfly Club on Sunday May 6th at 6pm. For tickets, visit www.thebutterflyclub.com.

Review: THE BAD BOYS OF THEATRE are Not Quite Right In The Head

The boys are back in town!

By Meg Richardson

John Frankland and Andrew Strano are the Bad Boys of Music Theatre. And these well dressed, so called “Bad Boys” are back with their second full-length cabaret.

While their show last year declared their undying “bromance”, the boys have delved deeper into their psyches in this year’s show to explore psychological issues that are often found in the showbiz industry such as upstaging, narcissism, identity issues and many more.

This hour-long comedic cabaret has Andrew trying to help John to solve his crippling social anxiety by convincing him that he is a qualified psychiatrist. The audience is then taken on a journey of hypnosis, confessions and stories of daddy issues, childhood bullying and other would-be-sensitive issues of both John and Andrew’s pasts that have been stripped naked in the most jocular of ways. (We also see John literally stripped during the performance).

John and Andrew have a dynamic chemistry on stage that is apparent from the very beginning of the performance  with Andrew’s manic energy and lanky physical comedy balanced perfectly with John’s firmer, drier (and considerably shorter) comic stance.

With a clever blend of silly banter, re-worded cover songs, original numbers and multi-media, these two men have created a pace that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.  The boys cover artists ranging from Queen to (a rather large dedication to) Justin Bieber so there is something for almost any age group throughout the performance.

The multi-media arrangement of sound and video was near flawless and the cheesy, OTT pre recordings added an atmosphere to the show that couldn’t have been created on stage alone. Among these recordings were mock-up music video clips, television drama clips and a view into the human subconscious which had the audience laughing, singing and dancing along.

On top of all this, the duo have compiled a number of original songs that showcase their not only their hilarious writing ability, but their excellent vocal talent. They have also utilized their pianist, Lachlan – for more than just a few punch lines, but also as a vocal accompanist to add further levels to their already smooth, well blended harmonies.

The pair make a dynamic team and their newest production is really a delight to watch. They may not be “quite right in the head” but this performance is quite right in almost every way.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran VIC 3181
Dates: 28 March- 1st April
Times: Wed-Sun 7:30pm, Thurs, Sat & Sun 2pm
Tickets: $25 Full, $20 Concession
Bookings: (03) 8290 7000, www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

REVIEW: Anne Wilson in WHAT I DID FOR LOVE

The content is familiar, but the charm is undeniable

By Adam Tonking

Boy meets Girl. Girl falls in love with Boy. Boy runs screaming. This is how relationships work, right?

This is the premise of Sydney-based performer Anne Wilson‘s cabaret What I Did For Love, a startling exploration of what a girl will do when all she really wants is to be loved, and how far she will go to achieve it.

From the moment Wilson steps onto the stage, her pathos is clear and painful – this is a woman who has loved unendurably, and she’s here to tell you about the men who didn’t understand.

Through a series of eclectic song choices – everything from Queen to Hunters and Collectors, this is the journey of making the same mistake over and over in the quest for romance, and indeed, it seems Wilson will do anything for love.

Wilson is clearly an amazing performer. The story is set out in a series of vignettes, with Wilson shining in every song and making every story personal and convincing. Her lovely voice never loses its control of the material even while she’s breaking down emotionally on stage.

Under the watchful eye of music director and accompanist Steven Kreamer, who provides some beautiful arrangements and stands in for the various cads in Wilson’s life, the words and songs flowed seamlessly into each other, never pausing for laughs or applause, and giving the story gravitas and urgency.

In fact, Kreamer’s awkward smile provides a wonderful counterpoint to Wilson’s manic performance. One of my favourite moments came early on when they sung together in their take on “Hernando’s Hideaway”.

I also admired Wilson’s use of the audience. Audience participation can be tricky and awkward, but with Wilson, she was so open and welcoming that it was easy to speak up and be included in her world, and her charm was perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the show.

While it was frustrating at times to hear about her making the same mistakes with all the men in her life, as an audience member you still wanted to help her not abandon her.

The ending arrives a little neatly and quickly, but provides one of the most honest moments of the show and I found myself genuinely moved.

This excellent show only has one more night, but Wilson hints of a move to Melbourne and the cabaret scene here will definitely be better for it, so I highly recommend rushing to see it to encourage her to stay with us.

Anne Wilson in What I Did For Love is on at The Butterfly Club as part of theMelbourne Fringe Festival, October 6th – 8th at 10.30pm.

Book at www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/what-i-did-for-love or www.thebutterflyclub.com.