This year (2011) marks the 40th anniversary of the legendary rock band Queen. A South African tribute, “Somebody to Love: A Dance Celebration to the Music of Queen”, opens tomorrow at the iZulu Theatre at the Sibaya Casino, Durban. The show features 18 of Queen’s greatest songs choreographed as a two-part homage to love featuring, according to Durban publicist Illa Thompson, some of the most beautiful bodies from South Africa’s Gauteng province.
Internationally Queen’s 40th anniversary kicked off in London with a Queen jubilee show organized by band members Brian May and Roger Taylor as part of a year-long celebration that includes the reissue of remastered classic hits, concert tours and Queen events in the UK and around the world. ?
The 18 South African dance celebration songs have been especially arranged for the production opening in Durban tomorrow by DuPreez Strauss. Classically trained at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, Strauss has worked as an artistic consultant, composer, music director, pianist, conductor and performer in South Africa and overseas.
The rock band responsible for such all-time classics as Bohemian Rhapsody, Killer Queen, Somebody to Love, Don’t Stop Me Now, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and We are The Champions lost its flamboyant legendary front man Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara) — who wrote all the aforementioned songs — to complications from HIV-Aids in November 1991. Read more on Freddie Mercury on Wikipedia here.
The London “rock opera” musical tribute to Queen, "We Will Rock You" — a collaboration between British comedian and author Ben Elton, Brian May and Roger Taylor — opened in the West End’s Dominon Theatre in 2002. The author of this article, a huge Queen fan (could anyone not be?) saw the show in 2004. “While the plot was a little thin and unnecessary, the music was fabulous,” she says. “But then, it was Queen, wasn’t it, so how could it not have been?”
"We Will Rock You" has become the longest running musical at the Dominion Theatre and international productions have been staged in countries including Italy, Germany, Thailand, Canada and Australia. A sequel is apparently in the works.
The landscape of human relationships forms the central theme of Somebody to Love: A Dance Celebration to the Music of Queen, which features dancers from Mzansi Productions, a Johannesburg-based dance company with a versatile performing style that ranges from the classical to the contemporary, says Thompson.
Mzansi Productions are involved in mentorship and education of South African dance talent and participate in skills exchange programmes with various international ballet and dance companies and schools.
“In Somebody to Love, we pay homage rather than tribute. Freddie Mercury was an incredible musician and man. It is an honor to do such intricate and amazing music,” says cast member, singer-musician Anne Marie Clulow. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Clulow lived in various cities in the UK before moving to South Africa. Her career highlights have included performing as a support actor for Seal, singing and playing saxophone for Oprah Winfrey and performing in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Chess, Cats, Joseph and Phantom of the Opera; and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Somebody to Love: A Dance Celebration to the Music of Queen will run at the iZulu Theatre at the Sibaya Casino, Durban, South Africa, from June 15 – 18. Tickets: R70, R135 and R195. Booking through Computicket.
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