Naomi MacKay rocked up to the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre for the first night of a week-long run of We Will Rock You. Catch it if you can!
It’s 20 years since the jukebox musical We Will Rock You – written by comedian and author Ben Elton and featuring the songs of rock legends Queen – first opened in London, and since then it has been seen by 16 million theatregoers in 19 countries.
Before I start, I should probably mention the fact that I’ve been one of those theatregoers on six separate occasions. So, admittedly I am a bit of a fan – but equally, I am familiar enough with it to know if the cast is doing it justice. And do it justice they did.
The premise of the show is that we are in the future, in a time where all the kids must look the same, dress the same, and follow the ruling of Internet GaGa. Rock music is banned, and everything is controlled by GlobalSoft – headed by the Killer Queen who is on a mission to track down the Bohemians, a group of outcasts who are intent on finding the secret of rock n roll.
Enter Galileo Figaro (are you getting the Queen references now?!) a boy who has weird dreams and channels songs and lyrics from the past. Ian McIntosh is full of nervous energy and confusion as he plays the bewildered kid, while Elena Skye is the perfect foil as the hard-to-impress Scaramouche. Both of them impress not only with their comic timing, but with their vocal performances.
Can they escape the clutches of the Killer Queen and her sidekick Karshoggi? Will they find the Bohemians? Can they make their way to the place of champions and solve the mystery of rock n roll?
All these questions will be answered during a show that is packed full of energy, big characters and even bigger voices. If you have ever tried to sing a Queen song, you’ll know that none of them are easy – and you need a big voice to do them justice. Happily, the cast all have some pipes – of note is the deliciously evil Jenny O’Leary (Killer Queen), who brings her massive voice and her wonderfully over-the-top wickedness to the stage. Adam Strong as sidekick Khashoggi brings a similar cartoonish devilment to his role – as well as a standout vocal performance.
When We Will Rock You first played, it was panned by the critics – and admittedly the story can sometimes feel rather contrived – but 20 years of audiences can’t be wrong. The script is packed full of musical references and innuendo, so you need to concentrate to catch them all – and there’s plenty of comedy to keep you entertained in between the iconic songs.
The cast were rewarded with a standing ovation on the first night – not bad for a bank holiday Monday – and it looks like Queen’s musical will be reigning supreme for some time to come…
We Will Rock You is at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until Saturday May 7. Book tickets at: www.atgtickets.com/shows/we-will-rock-you/aylesbury-waterside-theatre