While waiting to speak with Casey Donovan—singer, actress, author and champion of Indigenous causes—I do the maths. It has been 12 years since as a 16-year-old, she took out the coveted Australian Idol title, beating one of Australia’s other favourite performers, Anthony Callea.
It seems like yesterday, but now at 28-years-old, Casey is coming to Brisbane to wow audiences in her latest role as Killer Queen in the musical ‘We Will Rock You’.
Casey answers the phone and the first thing I notice is that like her singing voice, her speaking voice is equally as melodic. A voice that has propelled Casey to win Arias, release platinum award-winning albums and take to the stage in major rock musicals.
Winning the role of Killer Queen
“I went through a nerve-wracking audition process before finding out that I’d won the role of Killer Queen,” Casey tells me.
“I just love being able to play a villain who has loads of attitude, and is sassy and bossy,” she says.
In We Will Rock You, the Killer Queen wants power. Live music is banned but the Bohemians are in rebellion against the Killer Queen and their diet of synthesised pop. So do they win and will they rock us? We’re not telling you, you will have to see the show!
Casey says Ben Elton who wrote the musical helped her to get into the part.
“He helped me find the attitude needed to play Killer Queen; it’s great to have him around to share his vision,” she says.
“The rehearsal time was short and although it’s really gruelling, and very tiring to perform every night, I love the energy I get from putting on different hats and masks and playing to an audience.
“Every audience is different and they play a big part in the show. Sometimes you have a listening audience, at other times you can feel them being all happy and chirpy.”
And Casey’s favourite song from the production? “Who Wants to Live Forever and of course Bohemian Rhapsody,” she says. Who could forget the hit that spent an amazing 14 weeks at number one in the Australian music charts?
Casey is always writing new material but her current challenge is a little different from the usual.
“I have these long red nails as part of my role as Killer Queen,” she says, “so it means I can’t play guitar. With the show touring for a long time, I’m away from my own space where I usually create new material.”
Casey also toured with The Sapphires musical and explains that despite its long run, “we had breaks in-between where we could go home and recharge before heading out on the road again.”
Casey has played an active role within the Indigenous community and most recently took time off to work as a bus driver for the Liverpool Indigenous Land Council. Her latest passion for random acts of kindness saw her supporting the inaugural DoSomething Day (June 15) .
Her goal: “to promote positivity in the world,” she says. “Everything is so negative in today’s world. You can just do small things like smile, hold a door for someone, buy someone a cup of coffee, or call someone who is going through a hard time,” Casey suggests.
At this time in her life
Casey acknowledges she has had a lot of growth and learning since winning Idol all those years ago while still at school.
“My confidence has grown so much in the twelve years since I was placed in the spotlight as a teenager,” she says. “I’m enjoying learning from other people, and each day I find new ideas and new ways of doing things which help me perfect my craft.
“I have way more motivation than I had then. It doesn’t matter if I’m tired now, I’ll still get up and do what I have to do and be really professional.”
We Will Rock You in Brisbane
“The show has been going really well in Sydney and audiences here in Brisbane can expect a fantastic night out,” Casey says.
“The story line is great, with the the sensational music of Queen flowing through it. They will be up on their feet by the end of the show.”
Casey tells me before hanging up that she is looking forward to using one of the City Cycles and having a ride along the river. Hopefully she can ride with her Killer Queen talons!
Don’t miss We Will Rock You, in Brisbane from 10 July at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC.
- Prices from $59.99.
- Show: 2 hours and 30 min (includes interval, subject to change without notice)
- Bookings and information – here.
Photo: Casey Donovan portrait by Brian Geach