Following hot on the heels of the release of the internationally loved Queen biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the smash-hit West End musical ‘We Will Rock You’ returns to Auckland for a strictly limited season this August and September.
Written by Ben Elton, the musical boasts 24 of Queen’s biggest hits, with the scale and spectacle that marked the band’s legendary live performances. We talked to actor David Mackie about what audiences can expect.
Tell us about the musical, how have these seminal songs been interwoven into a storyline?
It is written in the script that Queen predicted a time when kids would be “Caught in a landslide of fantasy” some 3 hundred years into the future. Ben Elton has, in collaboration with the lads, merely massaged Freddie’s words around what was beginning to happen. Queen is actually a rock freedom ﬁghter collective from the future who travelled back in time to warn us of the mind control social engineering practices we are now dealing with. It might be 5G making some folk nervous today but wait until you feel the vibe of 100G!
We Will Rock You may have debuted 17 years ago, but a lot of the themes still seem to resonate today, particularly the desire to carve out your own identity in the face of overwhelming pressure for corporations and advertising to do it for you. What resonates with you most about the show?
Just how much fun can you have in a little over 2 hours? When good music is created, it can never fade away. Compared to a lot of the “works” being pushed out these days, the music of Queen thunders through with it’s unique style and elegance … and just pure talent. On the album “A Night At The Opera” you will ﬁnd a short sentence that declares that no synthesisers were used in the making of the record. You could say it was a “handmade miracle of musicianship”. Nothing auto-tuned or computer rendered: The Human Touch. They put themselves into every note. What resonates most about the show? For me it is this, be yourself. Be your BEST self.
Where have you drawn your inspiration for your performance?
The last video of Freddie Mercury with the band was “Those Were The Days Of Our Lives”. It showed me just how much he wished to go on and continue to inspire, to live. The tragedy of his condition only made public a couple of weeks before his death. Every song in the show is a favourite from a catalogue of some of the strongest works ever written, but when I sing this song, there is no acting involved.
What does it mean to be part of a production like this?
There aren’t too many rock musical options left out there for a, shall we say, veteran rock and roller, “so I just grabbed it and ran” [another line from the show]. Considering this may be the last role on earth for this headbanger, it just ﬁlls me with joy to walk [stagger: I leave nothing behind] oﬀ stage in a full sweat and ears ringing with the music and “the vibe” of a live audience.
The show offers a great mix of spectacle, music, and unexpected amounts of comedy too. How do you find the right balance in your performance between delivering musically and delivering from an acting standpoint?
For me, it is a matter of dialling every knob to eleven and let the director wind it back. A good director will let you go to the precipice and catch you just before you tilt over … maybe even let you do that to see what the abyss is like. They would also make it an enjoyable journey. We have had that in spades.
What does it take from you, as a performer, to get in the zone to deliver night after night?
Learn the lines and turn up on time!
Is this show just for fans of Queen, or is it something that everyone will enjoy?
It is ridiculous. It’s a circus. It’s a rock show. It’s the music of Queen! If you don’t love this show, like it, even if it’s just a little, you are brain dead.
What should Kiwi audiences expect from We Will Rock You?
To be rocked!
When: 20 August – 7 September
Where: Bruce Mason Theatre
Tickets: $60.00 – $89.00, and can be purchased here.