It’s probably not too difficult to imagine a world controlled by an internet company. But when that company is run by a megalomaniac who stamps out all individual thought and denies the right of individual expression, especially expression through music, then the scenario becomes much more of a nightmare.
That is the premise of We Will Rock You where the Earth of the future has been re-labelled iplanet by the ruling company Globalsoft. Any digression from the norm is fiercely suppressed by Killer Queen and her enforcer Khashoggi. Two new dissidents are identified on graduation day at Gaga Academy – Galileo who has dreams that include lyrical fragments from the rock past and Scaramouche who refuses to conform to the uniform dress code. Despite the authority’s efforts to alter their minds, the rebel duo escape to find Meat and Brit. The latter pair lead the Bohemians – a group inspired by former librarian Cliff – who are determined to know more about the day that music died.
The plot revolves around the battle for supremacy in this strange world with the production’s main premise being a showcase for the hits provided by Queen. No less than twenty-five hits are shoehorned into the 2 hours 45 minutes of showtime (including interval) and the original show was panned by the critics when it first hit the stage some twenty years ago.
What do critics know? WWRY has been one of the hit musicals of the 21st Century as it has won popularity awards from the audiences who have flocked to see it. As the saying goes, the customer is always right. The show is a bundle of fun from its spectacular opening through to the much-demanded encore.
Ben Elton’s humour runs through the action like lettering through seaside rock and is backed with lively choreography, stunning sets and lighting designed by Tim Blazdell and Rob Sinclair and Luke Rolls respectively and costumes and wigs by Kentaur. As if that wasn’t enough the band under the direction of Zach Flis rocks your socks off.
At the beginning of the show, a recorded introduction by Ben Elton exhorted the audience to clap and cheer as much as they liked but implored them not to sing along to the tunes. He claimed that the performers had been cast because they could sing better than anyone in the audience. He wasn’t telling porkies as each cast member was note perfect.
Damien Walsh displayed the right level of naivety and wonder in his role as Galileo with Anna Davey excellent as the feisty and sarky Scaramouche. Their chemistry was evident both as a pair of lovers and in their duets with Anna’s excellent voice bringing poignancy to Somebody To Love.
Jenny O’Leary and Adam Strong were magnificently evil in their roles of Killer Queen and Khashoggi while David Michael Johnson and Martina Ciabatti Mennell formed a great musical and comical partnership. Michael McKell brings all of his theatrical experience to bear in his role of Cliff with great comedic timing and fine vocals and all of this is backed by a talented and energetic ensemble who ensured that the stage was always alive.
The members of Queen would have been ecstatic at how much the cast did their music proud. Finally allowed to join in with the show-closer Bohemian Rhapsody, the audience roared its approval
with a long standing ovation.
Even for those who are not the most ardent Queenophiles, this show is unmissable. The audience is whisked along with a top-notch production that perfectly knits together. Who wants to live forever? Well, as long as there are shows like this to see, it’s a yes from me. This show must most definitely go on.
The production runs until Saturday March 12th. For ticket information contact 08448717615 or atgtickets.com/stoke