Going gaga for Queen

WILL THEY DO THE FANDANGO?: Michael King, as Buddy, Brett Edman (Brit) and Nicolette Black (Oz) in We Will Rock You. Photo: Luke KynastonWRITER Ben Elton’s talents as a comedian are evident in the laugh-raising script he put together for We Will Rock You, a lively musical which uses the songs of British rock band Queen to tell a future-set story about people living in a world where live music is banned and has been replaced by computer-generated music.

While that might seem to be an unlikely subject for a musical, We Will Rock You has been a hit worldwide, with its inaugural London production running for 12 years after it opened in 2002 and more than 16 million people seeing it in global professional productions. And, with staging rights being offered to community theatre companies since late 2017, the musical is wowing more full houses.

Newcastle’s Metropolitan Players is staging the show at the Civic Theatre from August 22 to September 1, and its reputation led to many people eagerly auditioning. The cast of 40 includes well-known performers and rising young players. Three-times CONDA winning director Julie Black has been impressed by their work at rehearsals.

We Will Rock You makes clever use of the Queen songs. Killer Queen, for example, is delivered by a character bearing that name who rules planet Earth, renamed iPlanet, 300 years into the future. Killer Queen is the head of an organisation, Globalsoft Corporation, which forces everyone to conform to its demands. The planet’s children, known as Ga Ga Kids, as well as the adults, watch the same movies, listen to computer-generated music, wear the same clothes and have the same thoughts and opinions, and sing about their lives in Radio Ga Ga. But there is disquiet, with one male student, Galileo, who is just finishing his course, declaring to his classmates, in a song, I Want to Break Free. And he, and a similarly troubled girl, Scaramouche, become involved with people known as Bohemians, who want to restore real music.

Wendy Ratcliffe, who plays Killer Queen, notes that she let a computer program take over her body and is now trying to remake the world in her image by forcing other people to have a similar transformation. Dain Watts, as her police commander, Khashoggi, sees him as a man obsessed with power, and hopes that one day he will be the top dog.

Bec Kynaston, is the sarcastic and cynical Scaramouche (whose name is in the lyrics of the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody), and points to her sarcasm being a defence measure, and that she wants to fall in love.

We Will Rock You has performances in its two-week season on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Saturday matinees at 2pm, and a 2pm show on August 26. Tickets $66.30, concession, student, junior $56.10.

THEATRE REVIEWNewcastle University Revue: Stranger DegreesBrennan Room, University Callaghan CampusThursday at 12pm and 6pm (final shows)WHILE there is some loss of time in the sketches in this revue, no real time is lost in its staging, with 25 amusing sequences and songs in a 65-minute running time. And while the 13 performers look largely at university issues, outsiders will also find themselves laughing almost continually.

Sketches on various subjects are interspersed with segments of stories that are spread across the running time. One series, Chosen Ones, has two university students trying to cope with issues at the institution after it has been taken over by a strange team led by a horsefaced creature called Hippocrampus. The problem of finding car parks at the university venues is dismissed as they approach what is referred to as “the tower of a thousand parking spaces” and they are later transformed into talking cars called Manuel and Otto. Another series of short scenes has a character called Law Abiding Citizen Man trying to do the right thing when faced by problems such as parking in the light rail area. And the Seven Deadly Sins appear in a sketch as members of a marketing company.

O’Loughlin’s Gap YearCOMEDIAN Fiona O’Loughlin, who won this year’s Australian television series I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, will present her popular new show, Gap Year, at Newcastle City Hal on Friday, at 8pm. The show will look at her recent experiences, including her treatment in a medical institution. Tickets, $39, student/concession $36, can be bought through Ticketek.

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