30 August, 2021
PATS’ spectacular ‘We Will Rock You’ performances
Pittsworth Amateur Theatrical Society (PATS) continues to delight local audiences with another stellar production, its fifth in six years.
Last week the Society staged three right royal full-house performances of We Will Rock You, featuring the songs of British rock band Queen.
The musical is set in a future when humans on iPlanet are controlled by the omnipotent Globalsoft Corporation, headed by the ruthless Killer Queen (Beth Wheeldon) and her equally evil subordinates Khashoggi (Tony McEwan) and 2.0 (Emily Cavanagh).
It’s a world where creativity and freedom of expression, especially musical instruments and concerts, are banned and largely forgotten.
In the midst of this monochrome existence, two recalcitrants Galileo Figaro (Jacob Krog) and Scaramouche (Kirilly Mahon) find themselves leading a group of rebellious outcasts, the Bohemians, on a quest to re-discover the power and joy of rock music.
We Will Rock You has become a worldwide phenomenon since the Ben Elton penned musical debuted in London’s West End in 2002.
Director and self-confessed Queen tragic Kim Marsden set the action locally, with GaGa children growing up in mind-controlled conformity at Pittsworth Virtual High School, while a long abandoned Suncorp Stadium becomes part of the Wasteland.
“Although set 300 years in the future, it is really a story about today… the isolating effects of technology and our need to share the euphoric experience of live music,” Ms Marsden said in her director’s notes.
The principal singers paraded their excellent vocal and acting talents, befitting the showmanship of Queen’s Freddie Mercury.
They were well supported by Khashoggi, 2.0, Brit (Mick Santsingh), Oz (Michelle Sanders), Buddy (Karen Rock), Willie (Tammy Vary) and Pop (John Brown).
FBGs Lisa Cavanagh, Tracey Fox, Donna Hocroft, Megan Smith and Pam Tandy were suitably outrageous, while the Bohemian and GaGa choruses provided well-rounded performances throughout, blending adult experience and childhood energy.
Drummer Brad Wilson provided terrific augmentation to the show’s soundtrack, while Alexavier McEwan channelled Queen’s Brian May in a scene-stealing lead guitar finale to the show.
In some chorus scenes, the GaGa kids’ voices were swamped by the sheer decibels of music, but that’s not atypical of a wall-of-sound rock concert.
That was one of the few quibbles audiences would have had during the three hour show, as the cast of 50 and crew sashayed seamlessly through 14 scene changes.
On-stage quality only happens when backed by dedicated production personnel, which PATS has in spades at present.
Heading the behind-scenes teams were musical directors Geoff Colledge, Tracey Fox and Beth Wheeldon, sound and lighting technicians Alan and Wendy Cheetham, stage manager Margot Stirling, choreographer Emily Cavanagh, costume seamstress Amy Mann, milliner Tanya Andersen and backdrop artist Chelsea Hocroft.
Dozens of other talented people also contributed to set design, props construction, make-up, catering, bar service, ushers and so on, including graphic designer Natalie Fogarty (posters and programs) and photographer Casey Brose.
Undoubtedly, the under-lying strength of PATS comes from its collective sense of family and the breadth of community involvement, including sponsors and supporters, acknowledged after each show by president Mick Santsingh.
Each year PATS repays its community support with a donation to a worthy charity.
After Saturday’s performance, Mr Santsingh presented a cheque to Wayne and Meg Englart from Toowoomba’s Help a Friend Club, which offers accommodation and support to those in need.
Director Kim Marsden paid tribute to the passion and dedication of the cast and crew, which enabled the show to come together in just six months since auditions in February.
“Many have pushed themselves way outside their comfort zones, some have overcome individual challenges, and all have embraced PATS as the family that we are,” she said.
“This show has been so very special to me.
“I have loved Queen for such a long time, and to share my love of their music with all of you has been a true joy.”
Ms Marsden added in the 30 years since Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991, more than $16 million has been donated in his name to HIV/AIDS projects around the world.
Pittsworth’s staging of We Will Rock You precedes two Queensland shows scheduled for next year - a touring Australian performance in Brisbane in January and Toowoomba Choral Society’s production at the Empire Theatre in March.
Founded in late 2014, PATS has previously staged Oliver in 2015, This is Our Australia in 2016, Sound of Music in 2019 and Radio Plays Live in 2020.
The group was fortunate prevailing COVID protocols did not prevent sell-out ticket sales (more than 400 for each show), although extra cleaning was required.
Its next major production is scheduled for 2023 and fittingly the last word goes to director Kim Marsden.
“We’ve made a conscious decision to mount productions every second year, as we struggle to do anything small!”
- Alastair Silcock