Erin Clare on We Will Rock You, backstage comedians, and the magic of Queen

We Will Rock You is a crowd favourite in Australia, back touring the country barely a decade since it was last seen in our theatres. This time around, the legendary Queen songs and quirky Ben Elton story are still there, but there’s something really exciting and new happening onstage: Erin Clare is turning out a dynamite, star-making performance as reluctant leading lady and love interest Scaramouche.

We sent Erin some questions about the show, Heathers the Musical, in which she previously appeared, and more. Get to know this performer: she’s going to be a big deal.

Erin Clare, star of We Will Rock You. Photo by Brian Geach.
Erin Clare, star of We Will Rock You. Photo by Brian Geach.

Erin, you are a force of nature onstage in We Will Rock You as Scaramouche. Where did you come from??

I took a train down from the Blue Mountains and I guess here I am.

Tell us about your first time ever onstage. 

I was allocated one line as a talking sheep (I feel like it was either Brecht or Pinter) in my school play at four and unbeknownst to me it was a joke. As soon as the laughter began I refused to move and performed a three-act play whilst being escorted off by my kindy teacher. The term ‘transformative’ was used but I try to avoid reviews.

We Will Rock You is one of those shows that has actually been to Australia before – did you see the last production? How familiar were you with the show before coming on board? 

I missed the show the last time it was in Australia and wasn’t very familiar with the storyline at all. My agent actually called me up and described it as The Hunger Games meets a rock concert and I was really intrigued. Once I read the Scaramouche sides I knew I wanted to be part of this production.

What was the audition process like for the role of Scaramouche?

The audition process was a whirlwind to say the least. The creative team were really detailed in the workshopping of songs and scenes and I really appreciated being given the time and space to adjust and modify and work the scenes. The final rounds in Melbourne were the most nerve wracking, as it’s rare to perform material in front of the actual writer, but working with Ben Elton for those final rounds were incredible as it really was a masterclass in comedy.

What’s your favourite number to perform in the show? 

Every week I find new moments that I really enjoy within the show as it shifts and changes throughout the run; but consistently my first entrance as Scaramouche and the entire ‘Somebody to Love’ section is exhilarating, sometimes terrifying, often cathartic.

Do you have any rituals or superstitions you observe during the course of the show? 

I’m not really very superstitious besides fearing the wrath of karma – but I have some really great moments with many members of our wonderful crew that have become rituals of sorts. Doing my approximations of the choreography full out in the wings is also a ritual but I think that is more for me.

Who in the WWRY company never fails to make you laugh? 

I am so lucky to be in a company full of part-time comedians. Gareth Keegan (Galileo) has from day one derailed me many times and we often chest belt jokes to one another – much to my vocal dismay. Michelle Barr, our Dance Captain, is a comedic genius and we have imposed many curfews and strategies to our encounters to avoid nodules.

Erin Clare and Gareth Keegan in We Will Rock You. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Erin Clare and Gareth Keegan in We Will Rock You. Photo by Jeff Busby.

Your favourite Queen songs: go. 

‘Fat Bottomed Girls’, ‘Somebody to Love’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (Bo Rap to the part-time gangsters) and ‘Seven Seas of Rhye’, which I was unfamiliar with before we started the show – sung marvelously by Simon Russell both on stage and consistently in the corridor.

This show is such a big sing. How do you take care of your voice?

I think having a classical background and sensibility has already instilled a great foundation in a technical sense. Remembering that a warm down is just as important as a warm up every night keeps my voice feeling agile.

Before We Will Rock You, you were in the company of Heathers, directed by Trevor Ashley. What was working with him like?

Loose.

I kid of course – he is such an amazing force of nature on stage and he is equally brilliant behind a desk. He really trusts each performer and gives everyone so much room to play and fail and then pick themselves up again (in my case) and is just so instinctive when it comes to people and material alike. I adore Trevor and I miss his guttural laugh every day.

What are your favourite memories from Heathers? 

Being directed and co-directed by Trevor Ashley and Monsieur Thenardier depending on a double show day for Trevor.

What’s your favourite show so far this year – that you weren’t in? 

I thought Orlando at the STC was incredible. I also loved A Rabbit for Kim Jung-Il at Griffin.

How do you unwind after a show? 

Erin Clare. Photo by Jeff Busby.
Erin Clare. Photo by Jeff Busby.

Netflix and chill.

What are you obsessed with at the moment? 

Pineapple coconut water.

What’s your favourite way to spend a day off? 

I try to take it relatively easy but I love to go running around the parks near my house and brunch with anyone who is willing and able.

What excites you most about a career in the theatre? 

The response has been so amazing so far. It really is an honour to tell stories and sing amazing material and truly affect people. I think having a live audience every night is perfect for an adrenaline junkie.

What about a career in the theatre concerns you the most? 

I think the lack of resources and funding that are dedicated to the arts is truly concerning – I know that the next generation of performers are often deterred by the lack of work and a seemingly growing trend of importing overseas talents. The arts are so integral to our community and the lack of likeminded people in positions of power and influence is very worrying.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received – and who gave it to you? 

My first ever mentor Lauren Easton used to say “Keep a cool head and a warm heart” and I always think of that before shows.

Also, “Keep a comb in your wallet at all times”- that’s from me.

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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