Confession time, I am a complete Queen super fan. I grew up on their music and have the words of their songs tattooed on my rock-chic heart. So when we got the opportunity to interview Oxford born actor, Giles Taylor, the man keeping the memory of Queen alive as Freddy Mercury reborn in the Showtime Management Australia presented It’s A Kind of Magic showing at the Artscape Theatre, I ran as fast as my short Theatre Scene legs could carry me!
Bonus, Giles Taylor is the best kind of rockstar to interview… a true gentleman, down to earth and just an absolute sweetheart, which made rocking out to his renditions of all the best Queen classics even better. But before I got the opportunity to scream, shout and dance my heart out at the opening night on 11 November 2015, we got to know the man behind the Mercury magic a little better…
We tried to capture the amazing theatre memory moment in this video and interview below:
TS: Who is Giles Taylor?
GT: I am just the guy with the weird moustache. Most people don’t even know what I do. I actually get the most peace during Movember, because people just think I am doing this for charity.
TS: Do you stay in character between performances?
GT: That’s a blatant lie … I’m joking! Do I? Maybe I do and I don’t know. I suppose yes to an extent you do have to stay in character. When you perform as often as I do, especially if we are doing two or three shows a day, then it would be stupid to come out of character only to try and get back in again. It’s like warming down to go and exercise again. So yes, I do stay in character between performances, and I do carry over some personality traits of Mr Freddy Mercury into my own personal life.
TS: Which Freddy Mercy characteristics do you carry over into your personal life?
Certain mannerism. I am generally quite a rigid type person, and Freddy is very very relax and flamboyant, very flowing. It’s probably a benefit actually. I am a lot more relaxed and a lot more flamboyant, to the point where I often get chatted up by men, which is annoying because I am actually straight. [Take note ladies!]
TS: Capturing Freddy’s spirit and performing at his level must take a special kind of dedication. How did you prepare for this role?
GT: Preparing for this role was very very intense, and probably the hardest role that I have ever done, simply because Freddy Mercury is such an icon. So to try and fill shoes that big, you have to really fill every single aspect of his personality, if you are going to pull off trying to be him. Not only as a celebrity, but then you also have to please normal people, and then the die-hard Queen fans who set the bar very very high because he was such a respected person, as a musician, as a writer and as a performer. So for me to prepare, before a show I spend a lot of time warming up. I constantly got videos of him on, just checking his mannerisms, just checking his moves. I have people around who actually analyse each performance and say if certain things were or weren’t like Freddy and then we correct them on the spot before it turns into a show that’s mine and not Freddy Mercury’s.
TS: Does having Peter Freestone, Freddy’s former PA and biographer, involved in this production make you nervous in any way?
GT: No, no in fact to be honest it makes me more comfortable that he is here, because referring back to the last question of talking about Freddy’s mannerisms and stuff, he is predominantly brought on board to make sure that everything I do is like Freddy Mercury. So he checks my flamboyance level, and the way and the speed that I move in, and the manner in which I move. So to have him here is actually comforting. It is not at all intimidating, and he’s got some fantastic anecdotes about Queen which I couldn’t possibly share.
TS: Queen’s music seems to be transgenerational, grandparents and grandkids are rocking out to it together, why do you think this is?
GT: I think there’s certain acts in the world that have written tunes that are effectively timeless. They haven’t stuck to a particular decade or a particular genre. If they have, then they have crossed over some genres. So, for example, Queen did everything from 80s pop to 70s funk to classic rock. So if you do a variety of different styles, then you are going to get a variety of different people coming, giving you effectively a larger fan base. Also, it’s one of those acts where they are actually still out there performing. Freddy Mercury died in 1991, but Brian May and Rodger Taylor are still out there, actually performing and doing things, doing Queen songs, as well as their own stuff. The band who still call themselves ‘Queen’, have been fronted by a variety of other people, but irrespective of that, it definitely keeps the music alive and brings in a whole new generation of fans.
TS: What inspires you?
GT: I get inspired by people who are selfless, very very generous people. When I see a random act of kindness by somebody that doesn’t need to do it, I find that very inspiring. It gives me a good feeling about life, because there’s a lot of sh*t going on in the world, and it can bog you down, it can be depressing, so that makes me feel quite inspired.
TS: Any advice for aspirant performers?
GT: Yeah, don’t steal my job! [Laughs] I think for aspiring performers, you really have to stick at it. I’ve had many many years of effectively having no money. You really have to do the job, as any artist does, because they are passionate about what they do. Because they believe in what they are doing and because they want to achieve something, on a musical level, not a financial level. If you go into the music industry, or any kind of artist based field, and you are doing it for money, you are doing it for the wrong reason. You can generally expect to have no money. It’s only those who go through that selfless kind of thing, and do it for pure passion, who end up with the money.
TS: Which one of Queen’s songs would best describe Cape Town?
GT: Wow, I’ve seen the mountain, but I can’t think of a song with mountain in the title. To be honest with you, I’ve been driving around all day doing interviews, and it was just so nice to see this and see that, and it’s got such a diverse culture. So many different buildings, and everything. I could just keep on going, and just driving around and exploring new stuff. So I guess ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ would have to be the tune that would possibly fit the description of my feelings about Cape Town.
TS: What would you have liked to say to Freddy, if you had met him?
GT: Did you have to wear your trousers so tight?! Every night it takes me like half an hour to get these trousers on, and they’re not even leather! Thankfully, I have two people back stage when I run off, who take them off for me, because otherwise it would be another half an hour when the band would have to keep playing, and I’d be trying to get my trousers off. So to my costume dressers, thank you!!!
TS: How do you get the trousers on?
GT: To be honest, I wear tights. It makes it slippier. We’ve got these red latex ones which, something happened to the tights, they ripped or something, usually they would be on a previous costume, so we pull these red things over. So we had to try and get them off, but they literally weren’t coming off. We could not get them off, so we had to cut me out of them between songs. So I literally ran back on stage, while putting my next costume on. I just made it!
With that topic at hand, we obviously ended up chatting about the possibility that Freddy Mercury may have inspired the first skinny jeans… What do you think?
Alas it was time to say goodbye to the very charming and delightful Mr Taylor - who was off to do a soundcheck for the opening night - and I was properly buzzing with excitement to see the lights, moving stage and just all round awesomeness of the show that is It’s A Kind of Magic.
Honestly, from the 1st song to the final bow, I was dancing like no one was watching (but everyone was probably staring and I just couldn’t care), because I was living my Queen fan girl dream, and soaking up every epic note…. just really feeling the music.
The show truly does capture the magic of everthing Queen. It is the closest you can get to the spirit of Freddy Mercury, and boy is it close to perfection when Giles steps into those big shoes. He does Mr Mercury justice, bringing a level of enegy to the stage that you can feel radiate throughout the Artscape Theatre. But with someone who clearly does not chase the spotlight, but rather just follows his passion for the art of performing, how could a night celebrating all things Queen be anything but larger than life. As close to Mercury perfection as you can get!
If you don’t get yourself to the Artscape Theatre by 22 November 2015, with tickets available at Computicket, you are missing out on something truly beautiful and special, but more importantly, something totally rock n roll! To see how really gaga we got for Queen, read our Scene It experience of this most magical of rocking nights too!