If you have been a fan of Ru Paul’s drag race (which we at Rhys Reviews are!) you will most probably remember the iconic lip-sync challenge that occurred during all-stars season two. The seven remaining queens had took on the character of an iconic female character throughout the history of the world and then perform as said character during a series of lip-sync numbers! Ranging all the way from the first-ever woman (supposedly) Eve played by Alaska all the way to Princess Diana who was re-bought to life by the chaotic Katya. The majority of these characters were never given the opportunity to tell their story, especially through the medium of song, and so this was a super exciting challenge to watch. There was so much potential in the concept that influences this challenge so simply one extended lip-sync number did explore the idea as much as I thought it could of. I understand why this was just a short number due to the limitations of it being just one singular part of a tv show and so was instantly overjoyed when I found out the plot of the new musical “Queens” as it continued with this idea.
This new musical recording tells the story of twelve famous female leaders (who are not the same character who were used in the all-stars challenge) and allows them to tell their own stories and plans on how to make the world a better place. This show has an almost cabaret structure to it as each character delivers a song/ few songs and then do not appear again. Additionally, I struggled to follow the narrative that connected all these performances. It might be that this was caused by the fact that I could only witness the recording rather than a live production but it felt like the characters would walk up, do their performance and then step back ready for the next person to sing. This style of the show is very unique with very few shows doing this (Six is somewhat similar with its style) but will help to mark the show as unique in the lineup of other shows.
This is a concept recording and so suggests that it is only the initial step in the journey of this brand new musical. It is a fully realised album with thirty-three tracks which in total covers just under two hours of listening time. The music and lyrics for this show have been created by Anthony Irwin and they have created a fully-fledged two-act musical full of interesting and unique songs which all tell the story of each of the iconic female rulers. I enjoyed the opening number called “Treat me like a queen” which is a super catchy and fun number that is crammed full of energy. It is fantastic that despite being forced to stay indoors, that new exciting and incredible musicals can be produced despite all the performers potentially being miles apart from one another. The opening number has an opportunity for each character to introduce themselves to the learners which are great and does everything an opening number should do! However, it is clear that all the singers are all physically distanced due to the range of audio qualities but obviously when this is performed lived this would not be a problem. I am also excited to see this production performed in person as I would love to see the costumes and performance behind each of the songs!
One of my favourite tracks in this album was “I know what you like” which was performed by the Egyptian ruler Cleopatra. The song opens with a spoken/word section was incredibly performed and was a great way to start the song. This character reappears during the song “Afterlife” which was a trio of Cleopatra, Nefertiti and Cleopatra ( Amy Cordina, Jasmin Keshavarzi, Joycelyn Manu) with the three voices working beautifully together. The song creates an almost spooky atmosphere which fits with the title but also contains some very amazing vocals that were great to listen to! One of my favourite characters in this musical is Eleanor who is voiced by Hayley Orr. Hayley is a very talented vocalist as their performance during the number “standing next to you” was flawlessly performed. The song “flawed” talks about how people can lift you is when you fall and was again flawlessly performed by Angela McCallum which had me very close to tears throughout. The song “show them the door” was unlike anything I have heard in a very long time! It sounds as if this number starts in a club setting with general chatting and noise by Catherine talks over it to deliver her song.
Overall, this is a very interesting and unique musical that brings history into the modern-day. It also shines a light on strong, powerful women throughout history which is a very important inclusion as these trailblazers are often forgotten about in our current education system. I would rate this 4 out of 5 stars!
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