Before you read this review I have to let you into a secret. I don’t really like the music of Queen. I know, I know, that is almost sacrilegious, particularly as my mom is probably the World’s biggest Queen fan. So last night, as I attended the opening night of the Queen/Ben Elton musical at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, I was filled with trepidation. But I have to say that the fear was unfounded. We Will Rock You is a big, bombastic, exhilarating musical journey through a dystopian world where live music is no more. The voices are incredible, the sets are a visual treat, and even the songs won me around. I may just have become a bit of a Queen fan.
In a future world, live music is no more. People spend their lives in an online world ruled by the Killer Queen and her henchman Khashoggi, and seem happy for it. This is all except for the Bohemians, a disparate group who long to get back to the world as it was before, and scavenge for relics from the 20th century, including the television and the video recorder (cue mangled pronunciations.) Into the world of the Bohemians comes Galileo, a young dreamer who hears song lyrics in his head all the time, not knowing what they are, and Scaramouche, a girl who doesn’t fit the norm due to her style of dress and attitude. These two are accepted by the Bohemians, but their arrival, with the Killer Queen and Khashoggi on their tail, bring mayhem and terror to the Bohemian world. Is true rock n roll lost forever?
Like most jukebox musicals, the story is the weakest part of the show, with songs often linked tentatively. But the sheer vocal talents and performances of the very talented cast make this a tour de force. As the two leads, Elena Skye and Ian Mcintosh are just brilliant, with exceptional vocal talents that raise the roof, and great chemistry which makes them work together so well. Cliff, the leader of the Bohemians, as played by Michael McKell, is just wonderful, he has all the best one liners and adds humour to what could be a very bleak storyline. Bohemians Brit (David Michael Johnson) and Meat (Martina Ciabatti Mennell) are also very good, delivering their vocals with aplomb. Adam Strong as Khashoggi is deliciously evil in his role, looking like a Karl Lagerfeld clone in his ‘M&S’ finery. But the standout for me is the incredible Jenny O’ Leary as the Killer Queen. She is an absolute revelation, when she is on stage you don’t look anywhere else, and her performances of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ are standout moments.
Other standout moments include the Galileo/Scaramouche duet ‘Under Pressure’, the end of act one finale ‘The Show Must Go On’ and the crowd pleasing ‘We are the Champions’. The audience are asked not to sing along (rude Mr Elton), but there is a lot of audience participation – clapping to ‘We Will Rock You’, swaying to ‘We are the champions’ and of course the inevitable sing-a-long finale, where no one remains seated.
We Will Rock You is the ultimate jukebox musical with songs that literally soar and performances that are just perfection. It certainly rocks!
WE WILL ROCK YOU
24 May–28 May 2022
Click here for ticket information