As tribute shows go, Queen – It’s A Kinda Magic was widely revered as a huge magical experience that worked very hard to emulate the life and times of Freddie Mercury and his Queen bandmates.
So of course it had to come back to Australia. We were lucky enough to have a short chat over email with Peter Freestone, who was Freddie Mercury’s best friend, biographer, assistant and constant companion for the final 12 years of his life. He also worked as a close consultant for the production and refined it even more so for the shows return to these shores, starting with a few shows in Melbourne this week.
Why do you think Freddie Mercury & Queen’s story is important to be told on stage?
Queen’s music is always around us, whether on the radio, TV or the Internet. I feel this show accurately portrays the band, with Freddie, live, which has been missing since 1986. It revives memories for the older generation who saw the concerts and also gives the younger generation a taste of what us oldies keep going on about.
What, to you, were the most important aspects of Freddie as a performer?
Freddie took over whatever stage he performed on, whether it was the smallest stage I saw Queen play, at Tiffany’s in Purley on the Crazy tour in 1979, or Rio during Rock In Rio in 1985, and made the whole audience watch him. He also had this knack of making every single person watching him believe he was performing just for them. He also never wanted anyone to be bored, so while the songs were rehearsed Freddie’s movements were totally improvised, he tried not to be in the same place two performances in a row.
What aspects of Giles Taylor as a performer did you feel made him the right pick to portray Freddie?
Giles had the vocal range, while maybe a little more comfortable in the lower range, which Freddie used often, but to me what was more important, he wasn’t scared to try all the moves and (his) repartee and make them his own. While so much of Queen shows are the performances of each member, all eyes were on Freddie.
Of course Queen performances were also more than it’s frontman. How much work was put in to have a band that encapsulated those who played the instruments?
The producers brought in a director for this show when all the ‘band’ members were new and they spent three weeks going over all the moves of each member individually and then the last week was basically running the shows a couple of time a day to get the four guys performing together as Queen. They are very good musicians in their own right so this time was spent with the personas behind the instruments.
What do you hope the audience will come away with after watching It’s A Kinda Magic?
I hope everyone in the audience leaves humming a tune — their favourite Queen song, having enjoyed the previous two-and-a-half hours. Perhaps they will be re-living a show that they had seen, or the younger ones may have discovered a song they never knew was Queen, and that this show had brought back some magic!
Queen – It’s A Kinda Magic is playing on the 8th & 9th of July at The Athenaeum in Melbourne and on the 29th July at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast. For more info head to www.itsakindamagic.com.