We Will Rock You

We Will Rock You
By Queen and Ben Elton. Bankstown Theatre Company. Bryan Brown Theatre. Apr 26 – May 5, 2024

“We Will Rock You” was one of Queen’s most famous songs and a beloved moment where the crowd joins to pulse to that oh-so-familiar rhythm. It has also been picked up at numerous sports events, which is fitting. The song was reportedly inspired by a crowd singing a footy chant.

It becomes one of the standout songs in the musical We Will Rock You. The anthem serves as a rallying cry for the rebels and audience members alike, with its pulsating rhythms and bold lyrics that encapsulate the rebellious spirit of the show. As the cast pounds their feet and claps their hands in unison, the song's energy reverberates throughout the theatre, creating a sense of unity and defiance.

Queen was (and still is) a rock icon, so who better to provide a soundtrack for a musical about the revival of Rock? 

Set in a dystopian future, where live music is banned and an evil Killer Queen rules, the story follows a group of rebels on a mission to restore real rock 'n' roll to the world. 

With powerful performances, unforgettable songs, and vibrant characters, Bankstown Theatre Company’s We Will Rock You delivers a high-octane theatrical experience that leaves audiences cheering for more.

Another standout song is “Bohemian Rhapsody”. This timeless classic masterfully showcases the vocal talents of the cast members. MD Dean Turner has worked hard on the score with the intricate harmonies and emotional depth that resonate with the characters' struggles and aspirations laid bare. 

As a central figure, Galileo Figaro’s (Will Smith) journey from a confused outcast to a fearless revolutionary is a compelling arc that drives the story's heart. Smith’s powerful vocals and humbled stage presence as the dreamer bring an undeniable charisma to the character, making him a hero that audiences can cheer for and relate to.

Scaramouche (Stephanie Kurlow), the rebellious and quick-witted heroine of the musical, is another standout. With her sharp tongue and fearless attitude, Scaramouche adds a touch of sass and humour, balancing with moments of levity and wit. Together, they create a partnership that fuels the emotional core and rocks the ripped jeans out of their songs. 

Brit (Jack Maidment) and Oz (Jessica Green) are a vital part of the rebellion, and the chemistry between these two is sizzling. They are perfectly cast as the rebellious love match. Their duet, “I Want It All”, is a showstopper; this pair are powerfouse vocalists. 

The villainous Killer Queen (Marika Zorlu) is a formidable presence, portrayed with sinister allure by Zorlu. Her commanding presence and seductive charm make her a formidable rebel adversary. The Killer Queen's show-stopping musical numbers (including of course “Killer Queen”) showcase her prowess as the antagonist who will stop at nothing to maintain control. Killer Queen’s offsider Khashoggi (Benjamin Oliver) gave serious Alan Rickman vibes. His characterisation as an evil henchman was delightfully wicked. Together, they bring B-grade sci-fi nostalgia and cross it with quips and references to modern tech, which is light-hearted and fun. 

Special mention to Buddy (Dean McGrath): I fell in love with him when he first said videotape (you'll see what I mean), and you will walk away remembering him and his stunning vocals in “These Are the Days of Our Lives”. 

The ensemble cast of We Will Rock You also shines with vibrant performances and infectious energy. From the rebellious Bohemians to the robotic Ga Ga Kids, each character brings a unique flavour to the story, adding dimension to the dystopian world. The ensemble and minimalistic set pieces also keep scene transitions quick and moving. 

Arthur Pickering and the team’s costuming draws a clear distinction between the two groups and is precise. Ga Ga Kids are uniformed as one, just another brick in the wall—same hair and costuming and pastel colour palette. The rebellious folk are individually styled. It is a well-thought-out costume plot with the principal cast each owning a signature look. But the standout costume is Killer Queen. Each appearance she makes heralds a glorious look, and trust me, you will be looking and waiting to see what she is wearing next. Yass Queen! 

The choreography and ensemble numbers are executed with precision and passion, creating a visual spectacle by Choreographer Bronte Tonks to delight the audience. She has worked the cast hard to keep Ga Ga formations in line and regimented. At the same time, the rebels move freely, as expressed in the choreography. There are also some lovely choreographed moments between the leads. This show has undoubtedly kept Tonks busy. I particularly enjoyed “Another One Bites the Dust”. Tonks has kept simple, practical movements for ensemble pieces, while some featured dancers tackle a range of styles. It all works in perfect harmony. 

The night I saw the show, the team were still working on some tech aspects with light and sound, but that did not detract from this experience that celebrates the timeless music of Queen while delivering a compelling story of rebellion, love, and redemption. 

Director Daniel Conway has worked his cast through its standout songs, vibrant characterisations, and electrifying performances to capture the essence of rock 'n' roll. 

Beyond the surface, beneath some corny lines and laughs, Conway has taken the silliness of the script but treated it seriously, not just playing for the apparent laughs. They will come anyway and he knows that. He takes the opportunity through his cast to inspire audiences to stand up, sing out, and rock on.

Whether you're a die-hard Queen fan or a newcomer to the world of musicals, We Will Rock You will leave you tapping your feet, clapping your hands, and chanting for an encore and lucky you, they give you one. All you have to do is ask. 

Nicole Smith

Subscribe to our E-Newsletter, buy our latest print edition or find a Performing Arts book at Book Nook.