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We Will Rock You celebrates its twentieth anniversary because the music of Queen rocks on! – Seen and Heard Worldwide

United Kingdom Queen and Ben Elton’s We Will Rock You: Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, 1.8.2022. (JPr)

Jenny O’Leary as Killer Queen and members of the corporate

Some good issues come to you late in life and I could have been just one of some within the Cliffs Pavilion who’ve by no means seen the 2002 musical We Will Rock You earlier than. I overheard many who have been now in double figures and the particular person sitting subsequent to me appeared to know the dialogue in addition to these on stage. That Ben Elton was author and director raised various eyebrows when his involvement was first introduced and to be trustworthy there’s little of his famed acerbic wit on present and extra of a satirical swipe at widespread tradition (X Issue will get a passing point out) in addition to a homage to good quaint pantomime, with out all the standard viewers participation. Elton’s recorded voice is actually heard firstly asking the viewers to restrain themselves from becoming a member of in until the solid urge it.

Trailing field workplace success within the 20 years because it was first seen We Will Rock You is on an anniversary tour and crammed Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion. The story of this rock musical is skinny to non-existent. It isn’t ‘A very long time in the past in a galaxy far, far-off’ however in a dystopian future when planet Earth is now known as now the iPlanet. It’s a digital world and the GlobalSoft Company ensures that there isn’t a freewill or freedom of thought. The merchandise of the Gaga Excessive College, gown, communicate and assume alike. The half-human, half-pixelated Killer Queen (Jenny O’Leary) is, properly, precisely that however she additionally apparently likes ‘Fats Bottomed Ladies’ (I used to be stunned that quantity was nonetheless within the present) and guidelines GlobalSoft with one thing of an iron fist. When she shouldn’t be imposing the established order Killer Queen is ensuring all of the music is Laptop Recorded Autotune Pop (or CRAP for brief). Her autocratic rule could be undermined by rock and roll (the ‘true music’). That is now solely a distant reminiscence and the stuff of half-remembered myths and legends within the minds of a gaggle of individuals residing on the fringes of society on the Heartbreak Lodge calling themselves the ‘Bohemians’. They’re ready for ‘the dreamer’ who will unravel the prophecy of the hidden axe – axe being a rock guitar and the final musical instrument on earth – and can convey again rock and roll and set them free from the sinister GlobalSoft’s thoughts management. It’s to be discovered within the place of Champions revealed on the finish as Wembley Stadium.

We’re launched to that ‘dreamer’ early on and he’s Galileo Figaro who is aware of he’s completely different however shouldn’t be positive why. His thoughts is filled with a jumble of phrases he doesn’t perceive however we recognise these because the titles or lyrics of contemporary pop songs. Galileo is somewhat gawky and gauche within the somewhat over-extended opening to We Will Rock You however quickly develops an on-off relationship with a kindred spirit he meets when they’re imprisoned in GlobalSoft’s correctional facility which they escape with their minds intact. (One snicker out loud second comes when previous to them sleeping collectively they focus on ‘safety’, and this isn’t what first involves thoughts!)

The story – reminiscent of it’s – and Ben Elton’s dialogue is solely to hyperlink the 24 Queen-related songs. Whereas it has all been given some modern references a number of of the jokes are of the sort you’d hear in an end-of-year pantomime together with some which are somewhat risqué significantly a roadie/groupie/intercourse one from the somewhat dissolute rock relic Cliff who needs to be known as ‘Sir Cliff’. (Additionally pay attention out alongside the best way for his participating mispronunciations of the phrases ‘tv’ and ‘videotape’ that I gained’t spoil for you when you have not seen the present.) Alongside the best way a vaguely bear in mind fab 4 will probably be known as ‘John, Paul, George and Bongo’ and I’m positive a reference to M&S menswear predates the fairly priced energy swimsuit worn by the Sarina Wiegman, the supervisor of the Lionesses. Did I snicker all through, properly after all I did!

Tim McIntosh (up on left) as Galileo with firm of We Will Rock You

The panto vibe extends to the customarily beautiful costumes and perfunctory choreography however Ben Elton’s manufacturing is undoubtedly a slick one. There’s Tim Blazdell’s easy set of two steel walkways as much as an higher degree when the band of 5 are hid – or justifiably regularly revealed – and there are easy garish video game-style photographs projected on an LED backdrop.

But when I appear to have some quibbles about all of it – to purloin some well-known lyrics – ‘Nothing actually issues, anybody can see’. And it isn’t what we see that ‘actually issues’ it’s what we hear, and people are the songs, whether or not sung straight or adjusted to service the story reminiscent of ‘Flash’ when the Bohemians are being tortured. They arrive thick and quick via an extended present that prolonged properly into its third hour (together with an interval). Every one is handled with reverence by the viewers who – as requested – don’t take part till inspired to. The musicians underneath their director Zachary Flis are among the greatest you will note and listen to in a present like this and guitarist Simon Croft comes centre stage in direction of the tip to do a greater than satisfactory Brian Might impersonation.

Why you’ll have been completely satisfied to have seen this as a first-timer like me is due to the splendidly proficient solid who give wonderful performances of some iconic songs from a rousing ‘Radio Ga Ga’ via to the singalong ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ encore on the finish. The most effective of them is Elena Skye because the snarky Scaramouche who’s an incredible vocalist (a spotlight was ‘Anyone to Love’) but in addition a beautiful actor who brings her character to true life together with her chopping feedback and cynicism. Tougher to like is Ian McIntosh’s Galileo, however that’s in all probability the fault of the writing as he comes over completely bizarre at first. As his quest continues, we start to root for him and, amongst all he does, ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are the Champions’ will linger in your thoughts as you permit the theatre. Additionally among the greatest moments are when Skye and McIntosh duet for ‘Beneath Stress’, ‘Who Needs to Reside Without end’ and ‘Hammer to Fall’ when their voices mix splendidly.

Jenny O’Leary is the massive unhealthy Killer Queen and her singing is a power of nature in ‘Fats Bottomed Ladies’, ‘Don’t Cease Me Now’ and ‘One other One Bites the Mud’ however I don’t assume her villainy crosses the footlights; if it had absolutely she would have gotten some panto-style booing at her curtain name? As her evil henchman, Khashoggi, Adam Robust is splendidly smarmy however it’s one other barely underdeveloped character.

The Bohemians are led by a trio of oddballs, there’s Edward Leigh as Brit (named after Britney Spears) and Kate Leiper as his girlfriend Meat (for Meatloaf, after all) and Cliff (Michael McKell) is their chief. Leigh and Leiper are listed as understudies however throw themselves into these supporting roles and – like the remainder of the high-powered and regularly flamboyant ensemble – have nice voices and appear to be having enjoyable. McKell channels Sir Mick Jagger and any variety of rock legends, residing or useless, and will get among the funniest strains while his huge expertise – as evidenced by his programme biography – makes ‘These Are the Days of Our Lives’ one other showstopper.

Regardless of some reservations it’s ‘A Form of Magic’ how properly We Will Rock You all labored in the long run to engineer two well-earned standing ovations and at twenty years younger ‘The Present Should Go On’ and can till September (for particulars click on right here) within the UK, however I’m positive will proceed to reside on because the reminiscence of Freddie Mercury and the music of Queen does for thus very many.

Jim Pritchard

Music and Lyrics – Queen
E-book and Director – Ben Elton
Set designer – Tim Blazdell
Lighting designer – Rob Sinclair and Luke Rolls for Sinclair/Wilkinson
Sound designer – Rory Madden
Video Producers – STUFISH Leisure Architects/ Willie Williams
Further choreography and Authentic variations – Jacob Fearey
Music director – Zachary Flis

Solid included:
Cliff – Michael McKell
Khashoggi – Adam Robust
Galileo – Ian McIntosh
Scaramouche – Elena Skye
Killer Queen – Jenny O’Leary
Brit – Edward Leigh
Meat – Kate Leiper



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