Mildura born and bred actor/ singer/dancer Ross Chisari was in town over Easter to visit his family and he spoke to the ‘Weekly about his latest role in the musical production of ‘We Will Rock You’, which features the music of Queen and is a theatrical adaptation of a book by Ben Elton.
When the ‘Weekly last spoke with Ross, he was about to return to Brisbane, where ‘Shrek The Musical’ was about to re-launch, after having been closed down in Melbourne when the coronavirus lockdowns hit the entertainment and arts industry last year.
“It’s great to be back in Mildura to see my family ahead of what is going to be a busy time for me in 2021,” a rejuvenated and enthusiastic Ross said.
“It’s been a busy couple of months with lots of auditions and shows popping up, which has been really exciting, because it means that our industry is coming back online after a year of nothing in 2020, which is awesome for everyone involved.
“The audition came up for the lead role in We Will Rock You − The Arena Tour − and my agent submitted me and the next thing I knew, I had an audition and I was in Brisbane at the time for Shrek fortunately, because this company only works out of Brisbane where it is based, and so I could appear in person.
“Normally, I’m not able to be seen for the auditions, but it just happened that I was there at the right time and the audition was on my day off, and so all the stars aligned for my involvement for the show.”
Ross said he went in for his audition and there was the usual back and forth as people are culled.
“I went through to the next round, and then the next round, and then I made it to the finals, and after weeks of auditions, I was down to the top two, and they went with me!” he said.
“I can’t tell you how thrilled I was – this is going to be a super huge production.
“My character in the production is ‘Galileo Figaro’, which I’m sure people will know from Bohemian Rhapsody, and I play the role of a protagonist in the show, which is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where all music, artistry and creativity is illegal and not allowed, and it doesn’t exist anymore.
“So I’m this shining light – this rebel – who has basically arrived in this world where no one knows what music is and no one has passion for creativity and I’m the one who leads the charge − leads the way – in rekindling everyone’s creativity and passion for music and life again, and along the way I sing some of the most famous Queen songs ever written, which is great.”
Ross said he has a lot of very high notes to hit in the production.
“As you can imagine, the notes I have to sing are very high and then some – pretty much every song that Freddie Mercury has sung,” he said.
“It’s not an easy task and it won’t be an easy road ahead, but the best thing about it is, rehearsals don’t start until late August, early September, and so I’ve got plenty of time to sort all the music out and get the repertoire ‘sung-in’ and all get all the lines learnt, so I can hit the ground running, because you know, channeling Freddie Mercury, isn’t going to be a walk-in-the-park.”
Ross’s character description for the audition described Galileo as a young misfit looking for meaning in a highly regulated world. To perform the role, they needed to be charismatic, charming, have a sense of comedy and have a very strong rock tenor voice up to a full-voice sustained ‘high-B’ and be able to produce Falsetto up to a ‘D’ above ‘high-B’ is also required. As he said, quite a task!
The other cast main characters are Scaramouche Killer Queen Khashoggi Brit, Oz and Buddy.
“The show opens in Brisbane at the Entertainment Centre on the first weekend of October which is great,” Ross said.
“This production is making its Australian debut as an arena show, and last time We Will Rock You was staged in Australia, was in 2015-16, and that was just a theatre tour, but this one has never been done in an arena.
“You name it, and the show will appear there, as it does the rounds of the capital cities.
“The Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, all of those big venues where the major pop artists like U2 or Pink perform – that’s where we are going to be playing, which is insane!”
Ross said the cast for the show is a massive production, which will have a 500-strong chorus, that will require a new chorus to be selected in each city.
“They audition and recruit fresh graduates from each city, because the arena venues are so enormous, the company holds auditions to cast about a 500-strong ensemble,” Ross said.
“A normal chorus might have 20 to 25 artists who can travel with the production, but this is too big for that. And so this is going to be a real spectacular.”
Ross said that the revived season of Shrek had wrapped up the end of February this year.
“I was back in Brisbane and we had a scare when we had that three-day lockdown and that was ahead of opening night and we thought that it was going to close us down again,” Ross said.
“So we were pretty anxious at that point in time, but we were lucky that after three days, we had zero cases and the show hit the ground running and went on as planned, which was awesome.
“We had full houses and we were the first show in Australia to have a 100 per cent capacity and the entire season was sold out and it was a wonderful way to start 2021.”
We Will Rock You will be performed at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre this October 1 and 2, the show then moves to the Sydney’s Olympic Park Qudos Bank Arena, for January 14 and 15, (2022) performances, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on January 28 – 29, the Melbourne Arena April 22 and 23, Western Australia’s RAC Arena in Perth July 15 and the production concludes at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on October 7, 8 and 9.
You can also view a video interview with Ross on the ‘Weekly’s website: www.milduraweekly.com.au.