We Are the Champions. Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Under Pressure.
They’re the Queen hits that we’ve been singing for the better part of four decades (yep – We Are the Champions turns 40 this year!) and now the Townsville Choral Society is preparing to dish them up in epic proportions as they prepare for opening night of We Will Rock You – and the Society’s 100th musical production – on Wednesday, 31 January 2018.
The show, set in a dystopian future where free-thought and live music are banned, follows a group of rebel bohemians seeking to overthrow the dictatorship of Killer Queen and revive rock n roll.
We caught up with Morgan Eldridge and Cameron Veigel, who play the villainous Killer Queen and her right-hand man Commander Khashoggi, to hear how the final throes of rehearsal are taking shape.
Everyone loves a good villain, and you guys are it for We Will Rock You, tell me about your characters and where they fit in to the show?
Morgan: Killer Queen is basically the head-honcho of Global Soft and controls all creativity, she controls the minds of every teenager and every person on earth, which is now called the iPlanet. She kind of defers all of the dirty work to her right-hand man, Khashoggi.
Cameron: He’s the enforcer. He goes out and gets the people that are doing the wrong thing.
Are they actually bad, or do you think they’re censoring the world with good intentions?
Cameron: I feel like they know they’re bad. And they love it.
Morgan: I feel like no-one thinks they’re doing the wrong thing. If you examine it like that, no-one feels like they’re the bad guy. I feel like, yeah, we’re controlling all of these people, but we’re doing it mostly because I’m power hungry and just a massive bitch, but I don’t necessarily think I’m doing anything wrong. I think I’m just doing it because I like the power, as opposed to objectively being evil.
Cameron: I still think I know I’m doing the wrong thing. But I’m loving it, so it’s fine. I love inflicting pain.
Taking on the music of Queen is a big job! How does it change the game, when you know the audience has been singing the songs for decades?
Cameron: I’d never heard of [Queen] before this show, so – I had to learn all the songs.
Morgan: Are you serious?!?!
Morgan: Oh god. You’re so deadpan, it frustrates me. It’s terrifying, to be completely honest. I’m so excited and I feel like all of us are doing justice to the songs and doing what we can to make them our own, but I feel especially – for me at least – it’s always sitting in the back of mind If I screw this up, everyone’s gonna know, because everyone knows what it’s supposed to sound like. It’s Queen! I’ve listened to Queen since the womb, so every time I sing, I have this inner voice saying “You need to match Freddie Mercury” and that’s really scary, to be honest.
Is there an added pressure being female, and singing songs that are famously male vocals?
Morgan: Yes and no. I feel like yes, as a female it’s intimidating to take on Freddie Mercury, but I also feel like we’re almost at an advantage because Freddie had the most incredible range and, for most women, it actually sits more comfortably in their range than it does for a man. But it’s also a bigger leap for someone to see a woman singing Freddie Mercury.
And Cam, how have you enjoyed discovering this “new” band?
Cameron: I prefer musicals like this, because rock music suits my voice a lot better and I can’t really read music; I’m a pretty good mimic though, so I can pretty well replicate what I hear. Doing more classical musicals, I have to learn everything from scratch and I can’t really learn it until it’s played for me a thousand times, where musicals like this and Rock of Ages, I’ve heard all those songs a million times and I can just put them on and replicate what I’m hearing. It’s way easier for me.
What should punters expect from We Will Rock You?
Cameron: A bit of a laugh.
Morgan: Yeah. Lots of deadpan humour in this show. A lot of deadpan humour. And just some killer music. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t like Queen and this cast is so engaging; they’re just so good to watch. Every single person on stage is at 110 per cent at all times and it’s basically just Queen, but with 60 people singing back up. It’s amazing. It’s so good.
Cameron: There’s heaps of other musical references snuck in too – you’ll pick them up along the way.
This show will be staged as an Arena Spectacular at the Townsville Entertainment Centre, rather than the Civic Theatre, where the Choral Society traditionally performs. How will that change the way things are done?
Cameron: I’ll tell you Sunday [after we bump in]. I’ve never done anything there. I have no idea what to expect. We know it’s a bigger stage, but that’s really all. Until we’re in the space, we have no idea.
Morgan: The space is about three times the size of the Civic Theatre Stage, so it means we have to up everything by 1,000 per cent. There’s so much space, and so little ‘me’. It’s going to be a completely different experience from the Civic; and it’s going to do this show justice with the rock music. It really needs a rock-concert-arena-feel and that’s what the Entertainment Centre will give it.
Cameron: We’re sure it’ll be awesome!! But we don’t know how awesome yet.
Any final words?
Morgan: Come with an open mind and come ready to hear Queen in a different way. It’s maybe not what people are expecting, but it’s better than people are expecting.
The Townsville Choral and Orchestral Society will perform We Will Rock You at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre from 31 January to 10 February 2018. For tickets, visit the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre.