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Get Out More......................Musical Review

WE WILL ROCK YOU (Birmingham Hippodrome)

04-07-2009

we wil rock you

Brian May and Roger Taylor make a surprise appearance during the finale of this musical based on their work with Queen, but what about the rest of the show? Terry Wills goes radio ga ga.

Down the years the Hippodrome has enjoyed many opening and closing night triumphs with audiences standing, clapping, cheering, pleading and roaring “More, more”

But never in all my years of attending such nights have I ever experienced such a fantastic, frenetic, atmosphere as generated by the long awaited opening of the musical “We will Rock You”.

The story in truth is immaterial. Yes it’s funny, witty, draws lots of laugh as references to living and dead pop idols are trotted out with maximum effect.
But very briefly it’s set 300 years in the future on earth, now renamed as ‘Planet Mall’, a world where original music has virtually disappeared.

We meet the ‘Ga Ga’ kids who wear the same clothes. Hold the same thoughts, listen to computer-generated music as instruments are forbidden, but among them is ‘black sheep’ Galileo who has dreams and hears strange words in his head.

Most of these are lyrics of songs long lost and he doesn’t understand their significance. He meets a young rebellious Goth women who he names ‘Scaramouche’ and together they set out in the attempt find any possible long lost instruments and help them break free of a world dominated by the thinking of a certain ‘Killer Queen’ who has limitless power over her subjects.

But as I say, all of this is incidental. It’s the music of ‘Queen’ that dominates from the spectacular opening scene. Searchlights scour the auditorium - shimmering silver global balls, accompanied by relentless heavy pounding beat music reveal a truly fantastic computerised set as twelve clone singer/dancers perform the first of the unforgettable show stoppers ‘Radio Ga Ga’.

The songs are cleverly interwoven into the amusing story to depict the feeling and thoughts of the various characters.

“I want to break free”-“A kind of Magic”--“Don’t stop me now”- “Another one bites the Dust” –“We will rock You” – the title song seeing the whole audience singing and clapping along in unison.

(Forget the ludicrous storyline it counts for nowt! The witty, not to say at times, cheeky’ dialogue which provides chuckles and laughter -especially references to past years happenings such as a certain ‘Mr Blobby’ reached Number One in the Pop charts!)

As the curtain dropped comes the sight of arms waving and sounds of “We are the Champions” again to roars of approval.

Could this possibly be the end without hearing the smash hit “Bohemian Rhapsody”? Silly question! The wonderful futuristic set flashing out the question “Do you want to hear Bohemian Rhapsody?”

The inevitable reply followed by “Oh Ok then”! (Innovative in the extreme)
As the cast appeared to take their well-deserved bows came THE major surprise and the ‘icing on the cake. From the back of the set emerged two ‘Queen’ notables to genuine astonished looks of disbelief.

Brian May strolled on playing guitar, while a drum kit swung into view with Roger Taylor doing the honours. Laughter as they collided leaving Brian to swiftly regain his footing to allow the duo to join in the fun.

Even that wasn’t the end of the surprises. Ben Elton the shows creator also made an appearance to thank Birmingham for giving the show such a fantastic welcome to the City. Urging lovers of Live Theatre to give ‘You Tube’ a miss and support your local theatres.

Laughingly pointing out “Brian May and Roger Taylor won’t be here every night”!

For those who appreciate the music of Queen “We Will Rock You” will surely be considered a major triumph. Arlene Phillips choreography is stunning. The futuristic set and lighting are eye popping while the leading roles are played with panache and polish.

Galileo is an impressive Alex Gaumond. Scaramouche (who for me ‘stole the show’) is played delightfully by Sarah French Ellis an actress with many theatre and TV roles on an impressive CV.

Jonathan Wilkes, several leading roles to his credit, plays Khashoggi, a dastardly character. While popular X Factor contestant Brenda Edwards portrays a splendid Killer Queen-determined to root out and dispose of anyone who holds opposing views to her own.

Almost forgotten until his second half appearance, is Kevin Kennedy (Curly from Coronation Street) playing ‘Pop’

To sum up. “We Will Rock You” is guaranteed to provide another long running summer attraction for the Hippodrome in the process attracting coach parties from all parts of the country.

It’s perfect entertainment for those who miss the magic of Freddie Mercury and Queen, and, judging by the number of youngsters in the audience, appears to be attracting a new generation of admirers who will continue to cement their place in Rock history.

We Will Rock You runs until September 5. Ticket info from birminghamhippodrome.com/

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