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  • Writer's pictureJordan Anderson

Bankstown Theatre Company: We Will Rock You - Review by Jordan Anderson

Photo credit Grant Leslie

We will, we will rock you! At the heart of it, ‘We Will Rock You’ is about the music, and not just any music, the legendary and enduring music of Queen.  There’s something about this music that’s so iconic and it just brings people together from the moment you hear the first stomp or powerful chord.  Knowing that, Bankstown Theatre Company have assembled a cast of kick ass vocalists, dedicated to bringing the house down and rocking with the best of them every night.

I’m not going to lie, We Will Rock You suffers from what most Jukebox Musicals do; an average book.  That being said, it doesn’t for a second take itself too seriously, and under the craft of a well-seasoned Production Team you can’t help but laugh and shake your head at the sheer absurdity of it all.  Director Daniel Conway has leant heavily into the over-the-top charm of the script, trusting his actors to bring the energy and fun to every scene.  You could see they were allowed to have fun, but it never felt self serving and the jokes, albeit being incredibly corny, made you chuckle all the same.  This is also reflected in the choreography by Bronte Tonks.  Clean and precise for the Gaga Girls and free and uninhibited for the Bohemians and the rockers at heart.  There was a great energy in the choreography and obvious time had been spent to get the clean formations looking tight.                                                                                                                                                    

Of course, the most important part for this show is the music and across the board, what a team of voices! Not just from the leads but everybody on that stage.  Musical Director Dean Turner and Assistant Musical Director and Vocal Coach Benjamin Oliver have done an exemplary job drilling the harmonies and helping release the rock from each of the casts’ voices.

From left to right: Dean McGrath, Will Smith, Stephanie Kurlow. Photo credit Grant Leslie

Headlining the cast are Will Smith and Stephanie Kurlow as Galileo and Scaramouche respectively.  Will is wonderfully awkward in this role, bringing humour and a likeableness to the role.  Plus his voice was sure and powerful.  Stephanie brought a great charm to the role, effortlessly swiping Galileo down to size but showing a great vulnerability in her singing and the vocal gymnastics she performed were awesome.  The two of them were well suited to each other, and their interactions felt natural and honest, well as honest as you can get when you’re trying to break free from a tyrannical dictator that’s half a corrupted adult video game programme.

From left to right: Jack Maidment, Jessica Green. Photo credit Grant Leslie

Working hard to try and steal the show were the 3 main Bohemians, Jack Maidment as Britt, Jessica Green as Oz and Dean McGrath as Buddy.  Jack and Jessica had excellent chemistry with each other, always trying to one up the other in energy and sheer absurdity.  Some of the funniest moments on stage were when they were just allowed to bring their chaotic stylings to the stage and honestly Jess absolutely brought the house down with her rendition of ‘No One But You (Only The Good Die Young).’  Dean was more measured, though he did have some great one liners, particularly towards the end of the show. His voice was like velvet and while ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’ was a tone shift, it was a true highlight of the show.

Marika Zorlu. Photo credit Grant Leslie

Finally we have our villains, Khashoggi and the Killer Queen herself, played by Benjamin Oliver and Marika Zorlu.  Together they oozed evil, revelling in the misfortune of others and the total control they had over the populace.  Benjamin, with facial hair to make Caesar Flickerman jealous, commanded the stage with the power, and his act 2 number, ‘The Seven Seas of Rhye’ was a real showstopper.  And then there was the Killer Queen, who radiated maniacal pleasure from the top of her very fabulous wig down to the point of her sharp heels.  I know I keep harping on about the singing, but it truly was an incredible cast of voices and Marika, true to her characters name, absolutely killed it. Not only was she one of the strongest voices on that stage but the pleasure she got from singing these songs was palpable.  Not to spoil it, but the way she growled ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ Still gives me shivers.

True to the style of the music, it was clear a lot of the technical elements were designed to fit into that rock show aesthetic, such as the laser lighting design by Greg Smith & Sean Clarke and the heavy rock music mix by Raw Energy.  I do have to say while generally the technical aspects were fantastic there were a few issues on opening night. Parts of the stage were dark and cast weren’t lit in group numbers and some casts’ microphones weren’t up in time to catch their lines or harmonies while classic musical motifs in the band were missed, though as I saw opening night, I’m sure these have been fixed.

The design of the show was a little bit mixed, I absolutely adored the camp costuming, by Arthur Pickering, Jayne Mason, Ingrid O’Neil and Jessy Diakite, which was absolutely fabulous and leant itself well to an old school sci-fi movie/glam rock performance.  Following this the wigs by Jasper Newstead for Killer Queen were gorgeous and I have to give it to the Bohemian ensemble, their make up was on fire! I absolutely loved it.  However, I was hoping for a little bit more with the set design. There were some fantastic elements that I don’t want to give away, but otherwise at times it seemed a little bit bare, I do believe more could have been done to highlight the absolute chaotic energy of the show.  But overall the set was used effectively and the use of levels was a good indicator of the power balance between different cast members.

While I’m not a fan of the script of ‘We Will Rock You’, no one can deny how iconic and epic the music is and BTC have done themselves all the favours by leaning heavily into this and giving everyone the chance to just unleash with just pure joy and rock.  Any fans of Queen and music in general are guaranteed to have a great night out and  I give this show 3 and a half big wigs and some pebbles that we can rattle around.

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1 Comment

May 01

I saw this show on Saturday night! It was so good, so funny and everything sounded awesome. I have seen this show professionally, and this is my favourite version of it!

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