You’d be hard pressed to find a person in the world who doesn’t know a Queen song. The band’s frontman, the late Freddie Mercury, was the ultimate performer. A larger-than-life stage presence, a voice unmatched by anyone before him, or anyone since, his songs and performances appealed to people from all walks of life and continue to resonate with every generation since his death in 1991. Mercury was an openly gay man who championed gay rights in a time when gays were despised by the masses and AIDS was rampant.
Mercury was more than just a singer. As well as busting out his unique moves on stage while performing with Queen, he had a passion for dance — in particular, ballet. In 1979, Mercury performed with The Royal Ballet in London. Despite never having done ballet before, he danced to his own songs with skill in front of a full house of balletomanes. He received a standing ovation.
When casting the role of Mercury in the world’s premier Queen tribute show, Queen–It’s A Kinda Magic, it was important to find someone who not only could replicate his amazing vocals and impressive stage presence, it was essential that the performer imbued Mercury’s love for dance and could bring that to audiences.
Queen–It’s A Kinda Magic hits Australia in July and brings to life the costumes, instruments and lighting cues of those seen in real Queen concerts. The show recreates Queen’s 1986 World Tour concert and features all of the band’s greatest hits performed live, including “We Will Rock You”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Are the Champions” and “Fat-Bottomed Girls”. The star of the show is the UK’s Giles Taylor.
Dance Informa spoke with Taylor on the eve of his performances in Australia.
Were you a fan of Freddie Mercury growing up?
“I was a big fan of classic rock and loved the energy of bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Who. My exploration of other bands in the genre inadvertently led me to the majesty of Queen and the genius of Freddie Mercury. Once I heard them, I was hooked.”
You have an impressive and varied career in music. What is it about performing in Queen-It’s A Kinda Magic that is so challenging?
“I think every performer should take a variety of roles to develop their skills and constantly be in a position where they are challenging themselves. This role in particular for me was tricky due to the vocal stylings of Freddie’s voice and the unnatural, yet captivating, way in which he moved around the stage. Making these movements look natural and un-choreographed was the biggest challenge.”
Freddie Mercury was renowned for strutting and dancing on stage. How difficult has it been to emulate those moves?
“Very! The manner in which he moved his body when singing, and even at the piano, is contrary to everything I had ever been taught. There was a lot of unlearning methods and techniques before I could re-learn them the way that Freddie did them.”
Did you have any dance training either in the past or in preparation for this role?
“I’m an experienced musician, singer and actor, but I’ll be the first to admit that dancing is definitely not my strong point. To this end, we enlisted the help of movement coaches as opposed to choreographers in order to nail Freddie’s mannerisms. This makes it a lot more natural on stage and supplies me with a tool-box of poses and moves that I can incorporate wherever and whenever I feel Freddie would have done so.”
What is your favourite Queen song to sing?
“My favorite is definitely ‘Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy’. I believe it’s one of the best songs they have ever written. It has a certain Noel Coward, vaudeville-esque charm to it.”
How do you get into the zone for a performance?
“Outside of the usual vocal and physical warm-ups, I consume my pre-show hours with something that has nothing to do with the show. I might read, watch an episode of some serial or just hang out with the other members of the band. I don’t believe in pre-show rituals or last-minute rehearsal. If you don’t know the show backward by now, then you’ve not rehearsed enough. If you do all the work in rehearsal, regardless of how long it takes, then you can focus much better on the little nuances of the character rather than song lyrics or chord structures. It’s these little things that define a great performance from a good one.”
Visit www.itsakindamagic.com for ticketing and further information.
|8pm on 8th July||Melbourne||The Athenaeum Theatre||Via Ticketek or the Box Office|
|8pm on 9th July||Melbourne||The Athenaeum Theatre||Via Ticketek or the Box Office|
|8pm on 29th July||Gold Coast||Jupiters Hotel and Casino||Via Ticketek or the Box Office|
By Rebecca Martin of Dance Informa.