Canberra’s Toby Francis on singing Mercury’s hits


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It is a stage of scrutiny Francis, 30, will relish.

“There’s a number of strain however I believe there is likely to be one thing unsuitable with me as a result of I like it,” he laughs.

“It is excessive stakes and if you happen to’re not feeling the strain, then you definately’re not stepping up far sufficient.”

Erin Clare plays Gallileo's love interest, Scaramouche.

Erin Clare performs Gallileo’s love curiosity, Scaramouche.Credit score:Jamila Toderas

Francis performs Gallileo within the present; a Freddie Mercury incarnate residing 300 years sooner or later. It is a music-less, Orwellian model future the place devices are banned and self expression by means of music is non-existent.

Gallileo is a dreamer and a grasp lyricist, and manages to discover a small group of bohemians who share his imaginative and prescient of overthrowing Killer Queen (performed by fellow Canberran Queenie van de Zandt). The rebellious troupe – which occurs to incorporate a handy love curiosity for Gallileo, Scaramouche (are you choosing a theme right here?) – dream of returning music and self-expression to the world.

Francis is on stage for “about 90 per cent of the present” stretching his vocal capacity to its absolute restrict by means of iconic Queen songs like I Wish to Break Free, Who Needs to Stay Without end and Love of My Life.

Canberra's Queenie van de Zandt as Killer Queen, the ruler of the world.

Canberra’s Queenie van de Zandt as Killer Queen, the ruler of the world.Credit score:Jamila Toderas

“Freddie [Mercury] was one of many biggest vocalists of all time, among the finest singers who ever lived, so that you wish to honour that and also you wish to sing the phrases and the melodies folks know,” Francis says.

“But in addition, you don’t need folks to assume you are attempting to emulate him or to be him, as a result of everybody has their very own colouring and timbre.

“So it is discovering the stability between what you do with a music and what Freddie did, and that is actually thrilling to me.”

We Will Rock You is the primary time Francis has carried out in musical theatre in Canberra for greater than 10 years. After a really “Canberra” upbringing starring in musicals for varied native manufacturing corporations, together with Phoenix Gamers, he moved to Sydney in 2008 to check musical theatre on the Australian Institute of Music.

Sammy Marcedo as Oz in 'We Will Rock You'.

Sammy Marcedo as Ouncesin ‘We Will Rock You’.Credit score:Jamila Toderas

He is had “ups and downs” since that transfer 10 years in the past, he says, however 2018 has been “phenomenal” with a starring position as Charlie in Michael Cassel’s nationwide manufacturing of Kinky Boots, in addition to starring in and producing Excessive Constancy at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre.

We Will Rock You director Kelda McManus says when the PeeWee Productions group sat down a 12 months in the past to “assume lengthy and exhausting” about who really had the expertise to tug off the lead roles in an area model of We Will Rock You, Francis was at all times entrance of thoughts.

McManus and Francis met in 1998; she was directing Bye Bye Birdie for Phoenix Gamers and he was a 10-year-old solid member.

“He was spot on even then, his characterisation was implausible,” McManus recollects.

“I’ve watched him develop up, I bear in mind seeing him in Miss Saigon in Sydney and considering, ‘Oh you are all grown up’.

“The position must have this boyish allure nevertheless it additionally must have phenomenal vocal functionality to sing the songs, and Toby has each.

“He was my primary decide initially and I am so excited the corporate mentioned, ‘We agree’.”

McManus says she was “gobsmacked” when she first noticed We Will Rock You on London’s West Finish (it performed on the Dominion Theatre for greater than 10 years).

The seasoned director, who’s labored on reveals for Canberra Philharmonic, Queanbeyan Gamers and Supa Productions over twenty years, dreamed of at some point directing the hilarious musical with the Queen soundtrack.

“I sat there going, ‘Oh my God that is superb, that is unimaginable’,” she says of first seeing We Will Rock You.

“After which actuality hit me and I used to be like, ‘Oh come on! It is Queen’s music! You are going to want exceptionally superb guitarists and you are going to want individuals who can actually, actually sing’.”


Goals do come true. In 2017, McManus was approached by PeeWee Productions to direct We Will Rock You. She discovered all the pieces she wanted for what she ensures might be an unimaginable 4 nights at AIS Area.

For Francis, performing for the house city he loves is the right ending to a tremendous 12 months.

“I carried out at AIS Area with the TEN Tenors – and that was an unimaginable expertise – however to do a musical and a giant rock present is one thing else fully,” he says.

“It appears like a homecoming.”

Bree Winchester is the life and leisure editor at The Canberra Occasions

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