Erica Peck is Oz, leader of the Rock’n Roll Rebels in Queen and Ben Elton’s We Will Rock You. See it at the 5th Avenue Theatre through Sunday. This is a very limited engagement. Don’t miss out! Click here for tickets.
Earle Dutton: You started as Scaramouche and now you are Oz. Was that a hard transition?
Erica Peck: Well in some ways it was because the show is so familiar to me. In scenes with Oz and Scaramouche together, I kept wanting to go into my default mode which was Scaramouche. But to be honest, I am really grateful to do another character because it allows me to do something new within a show that I know so well. In that sense, the show is so fresh to me. Combined with the rewrites it feels like it’s a new show. It is very much a new experience. It has been an adjustment period but I have a ton of fun playing Oz.
ED: Is it hard to keep up with the changes and updates that Queen and Ben Elton make to the scripts?
EP: Actually no, I am really grateful for the changes. It keeps the show so fresh for the audience and the cast. At this point we have been on tour with the show for 9 or 10 months and these little tweaks keep the show sharp. They are so beneficial to all of us. I think they are good. I think the changes that are made are strong choices and they are funny. That is what the show is supposed to be.
ED: What was it like to meet the members of Queen?
EP: It was intimidating at first, of course. The first time you meet them is in an audition room and you have to sing their songs in front of them. Added to the pressure is that we have Robert De Niro as a producer and he is in the room as well. So you have to sing in front of Queen and act in front of Robert De Niro. It was an intimidating experience but they couldn’t have been nicer. Now, I look up to them as mentors, advisers and friends. It is a wonderful relationship. They stay very involved. Queen is touring right now but they are consistently in contact and easily accessible. Generally, we just know that they are in our corner. That is a really nice feeling to have.
ED: Do you have some new material and surprises for your Seattle show?
EP: Well yes, we have been on a short rest so we will all be very refreshed and ready for Seattle. I think that will be a great benefit. Seattle is such a music city so I am very excited. Anytime we perform in a city that is so inspiring, we are going to really give it our all. We are really looking forward to performing there. Seattle is definitely a highlight on the tour for a lot of our cast.
ED: Is it true that you have added some new music for the American tour?
EP: Yes, we did! We added “You’re My Best Friend”. It is a fantastic song but wasn’t in the show before due to time constraints. In Britain and Canada, Queen is second to only the Beatles. In the US they were a hugely influential and popular band but their song catalog was received differently. “You’re My Best Friend” is one of their biggest hits in the US. In Britain there are other hits that were put in the show. I think it such a great and touching song. It is beautifully simple and the audience loves it. Any time we do that song and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, you can just hear the audience get all excited.
ED: What is your favorite song to perform?
EP: I gotta go with Bo Rhap, “Bohemian Rhapsody”. We call it Bo Rhap for short. It is extremely rare that you get to perform a song that is that theatrical and that Rock’n Roll. It is just the moment you wait for in the show. It is an absolute blast. Everybody has a great time singing and performing it. The audience stands up and gets really into it as well. It is my favorite part of the night.
ED: Do you have a message for LGBT youth?
EP: My message is to anyone really. I think we are past the point of addressing gays and lesbians as separate members of our society. We love you guys here in Toronto. We just had World Pride and it was amazing. If you don’t know musical theater you better come and see our show. We don’t care if you are gay, straight, pink or blue. You will love our show. It is filled with the joy of Rock’n Roll.