The world tour of the new, re-imagined production (the original production debuted in the West End in 2002) of Ben Elton and Queen’s We Will Rock You has officially opened in Manila. Featuring 24 of Queen’s biggest hits, the story follows Galileo Figaro and Scaramouche, two revolutionaries who try to save rock ‘n’ roll music in a post-apocalyptic world. This production is directed and choreographed by Nick Winston.
Resident director Darren Greeff says that they held auditions for the show in 2019 because the show was originally set to open in 2020. “Of course, then the pandemic came and as the time’s gone on with the pandemic, we’ve got together on Zoom meetings, myself and the creative team, and things have evolved from where it was going to be to now. I think that’s quite exciting because the evolve-ment of the production got bigger and bigger.”
Winston has chosen to delve further into the science fiction genre to tell this story and as a director-choreographer, has chosen to use more intricate choreography than the original production. He says, “Science fiction isn’t a genre you get to explore often in musical theater and I’ve had so much fun bringing this dystopian world to life with my extraordinary cast and creative team.”
“You’ll see on the stage, the set design, the videography, the lighting… I think there’s more than 600 lighting cues on its own, which is huge for a production,” adds Greeff. “I think as the pandemic has gone along, everybody just leveled it up more and more so that the world premiere was going to be the biggest and the best one that we could make after all the silence of theater.”
Greeff also shares that it was a true global collaboration that helped bring Winston’s vision to life. “We had the costume designers coming in, and the set designers, and the video, and the sound designers, and the lighting designers, so everybody sat together from all around the world [UK, America, South Africa] and just added to all the aspects.”
Stuart Brown, who plays the role of Galileo, shares that the show is completely re-invented, from the props, the sets, all the costumes, and even some of the text. “To be a part of a new invention in this world is so cool, like it won us the chance to add in our own flavor as performers as well and I think just to be part of the global premiere of this version of the show is such a privilege and it’s so exciting.”
Nicolette Fernandes, who plays the role of Scaramouche, also shares the same sentiment. “It’s very surreal as well. I think there was a point during the last bit of rehearsals when I was there, I was kind of like, ‘Whoa this is real. It’s happening.’, because we spent 3 years doing almost nothing compared to this. So to be able to finally be here and to finally bring it to you guys is an absolute privilege.”
The creative team also includes Mark Crossland (musical supervisor), Tom Rogers (set designer), Douglas O’Connell (video designer), Ben Harrison (sound designer), Sarah Mercade (costume designer), Ryan Lee Seager (associate director/ choreographer), Libby Watts (assistant choreographer), and Megan Rarity (costume supervisor).
We Will Rock You will run only until November 20 at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater of Circuit Makati. After its Philippine leg, it will be moving to Singapore, where it is set to open on January 5, 2023, and then to New Zealand, where it is set to open in June 2023.
You can watch the cast perform excerpts from the show below.