We Will Rock You Review | The Palace Theatre | Manchester
Taking creative licence with Queen’s musical legacy, Ben Elton injects the Killer Queen’s catalogue into a satirical story, set in the year 2302.
On iplanet Earth, where rock legends are lost relics of a bygone age and original music is banned, two rebels stand against the soul-crushing system. Gailileo (Ian McIntosh) and Scaramouche (Elena Skye) band together against the GlobalSoft corporation, causing a ruckus in an effort to save individuality. Fighting alongside an underground group of Bohemians, the group take aim at Big Brother, fighting for the rebirth of rock n’ roll.
While the jukebox musical doesn’t seem to be a fan of the genre it plays in, the show does keep Freddie’s memory alive with a constant stream of lyrical references and a short tribute to the musical greats, with shout outs to John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Britney Spears. Still, I hope nobody planning on watching We Will Rock You is coming for the storyline alone.
Mixing The Matrix and Super Mario Galaxy, director Christopher Renshaw projects retro gaming graphic and GlobalSoft heads onto the floor to ceiling screens behind the cast. Keeping its cast in leather and the choreographed ensemble in a multitude of costume changes, the show is carried by its comedy and catalogue of hits. Moulding the futuristic, resistance building tale around 24 of Queen’s tracks, the musical covers all the favourites, including a fantastic group performance of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Headed by Oliver Award nominee, Ian McIntosh and Les Miserables’s Elena Skye, the production doesn’t take itself too seriously and often leaves its cast to perform two or three songs in a row before even adding a few lines of dialogue. With an extraordinary collection of hits performed alongside a live band, its talented leads impressively echo the demanding vocals of the idol they honour. The production’s glam rock revival, pinpointing the problems with manufactured pop stars was ahead of its game when it first premiered in 2002. However, Radio Ga Ga isn’t the only thing left playing on repeat, with the show conserving its more dated lines like “I really, really, really wanna zig-a-zig-ah!” for its nostalgic audience.
Despite the shows cheesy premise, audiences wanting to hear a live Queen concert will not be disappointed. We Will Rock You is an intense, headshaking affair that does not leave a bad seat in the house. From McIntosh’s passionate opening performance of I Want To Break Free, to the equally passionate Palace theatre audience who were all waiting for the first karaoke break in the set. As it finally came in the form of David-Michael Johnson taking on I Want It All, the momentum built throughout the show, finally, getting the audience on their feet for a standing ovation.
We Will Rock You is a live concert that highlights the talents of Queen and the legacy they have left. Despite Ben Elton’s fantasy musical placing Freddie’s talents on another planet, Queen’s genre-bending catalogue proves it can stand strong on its own.