Added on 10-Jul-2009
Dancing with Mercury
July 9, 2009
By Kgomotso Moncho
"A friend of mine once told me that an audience looks for one of three things when they go to theatre: a dream, a laugh or sex appeal. They will get all three with Queen - Somebody To Love," says pianist, composer, and conductor, DuPreez Strauss about the production the dance company Mzansi Productions is putting on at the State Theatre this week.
Using a selection of songs by the English rock band, Queen's iconic star, Freddie Mercury, with 12 sculpted dancers, choreographers Timothy le Roux and Debbie Rakusin have created a two-part show that pays homage to love.
And the exploration of human relationships forms the central theme of what is set to be a sophisticated act.
The addition of dance is a slightly different approach to the music of Queen. Picture Bohemian Rhapsody accompanied by a dance piece. This has required music director Strauss to alter the way he works. And he has produced numerous Queen shows before.
Strauss is classically trained and studied Orchestra Conducting at the famed Juilliard School of Music in New York.
"All the other Queen productions I have done have been vocal. Here I have had to shape my orchestral arrangements according to what the choreographers want. They chose the songs.
"It's been an interesting process - I've had to sit in choreography lessons and some new things came out during rehearsals.
"This has definitely opened up new horizons for me. I am looking at the music through someone else's eyes."
Another way in which Queen - Somebody To Love is breaking the mould is with the inclusion of three female voices - Kerry Hiles, Tshepi Mash and Yollandi Nortjie.
"The three girls have distinct vocal styles. Yollandi is operatic, Kerry has a rock vibe and Tshepi brings in her R&B influence. So there's a connection of different techniques."
For someone who is classically trained, Strauss is not too restrictive with his music.
"Being at Juilliard's music department, I was reminded of how disciplined one had to be. To be the best you had to be in the rehearsal room by 6am practising so you could perfect your art.
"For me it's more about having fun and feeling the music, than doing it perfectly. The magic of music is not in how perfect you play a song, but in what it arouses from you and the next person. If you feel it on stage, you audience will, too."
Talking about what he loves about Queen's popular music he said: "A normal song has three chords. Bohemian Rhapsody has 60 chords. Mercury had a special way of composing and that's enjoyable for a person with my background."
Queen - Somebody To Love is set to be a Queen tribute show with a difference and here's more of what you can expect.
"We have included never-heard-before versions of Queen's music. There are definite surprises, even for Queen connoisseurs."
A reality show is being shot around Strauss on the making of this production and soon you will get to see just what went on behind the scenes.
# Queen - Somebody To Love runs at the State Theatre until July 19.