Theatre goers and Queen fans were united on Thursday at the Birmingham Hippodrome for the Press Night of the national tour of “We Will Rock You”. The title certainly fits the electrifying musical from the moment the auditorium is filled with smoke, strobe lights and the sound of the band striking up. The music (conducted by Jim Henson) rose deafening heights as the auditorium began to shake with the excitement of 26 of Queen’s hit songs. The popular songs fitted nicely with the storyline about two rebel outcasts in a technological future where real music has been replaced by auto tuned pop songs: it is there mission to save rock and bring back individuality to the Planet Mall and override the Killer Queen and the robotic GaGa kids.
The cast features a lot of well known faces: X Factor’s Rhydian, Hear’Say’s Noel Sullivan, Leon Lopez (Brookside), Jenny Douglas (BBC’s Over the Rainbow) and Ashley J Russell (BBC’s I’d Do Anything) supported by a high energy, slick, and good looking ensemble with dozens of West End credits between them, including the London and international casts of We Will Rock You. There’s not a sign of celebrity stunt casting in sight as each member of the company gives a solid five star performance.
The audience lapped up the vocals from the cast and the interval was full of “aren’t the vocals amazing?” comments. Tiffany Graves (as the Killer Queen) gave us riffs galore during her number “A Kind of Magic” whilst leading lady Amanda Coutts (as Scaramouche) sends shivers through the audience in her opening song “Somebody to Love”. Musical theatre people singing rock songs? Works a treat if you ask me, and just goes to show the versatility of these trained performers.
Full of modern references – characters called Britney Spears and Meat Loaf, numerous Facebook jokes, and cheeky digs at Simon Cowell and his X Factor empire – Ben Elton gives us a script that keeps the audience chuckling along nicely. Arlene Phillip’s original choreography is performed to perfection during the opening number “Radio GaGa” and is heightened by four LCD screens providing us the backdrop of a futuristic world.
The Press Night audience were even treated to a special performance from Queen band member Brian May, playing a exhilarating guitar solo in an encore of “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Winner of the 2011 Olivier Audience Award, it is clear to see how the show has been selling out across the world since 2002. Even though this tour features a smaller scaled set from the original production it is still a visual feast and will continue to amaze audiences at the Birmingham Hippodrome for another five weeks. Get tickets now or you will be GaGa to miss it.
Visit the Birmingham Hippodrome site HERE for tickets.