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Phil Hopkins
Arts & Travel Editor
9:00 AM 18th February 2020

A Company Of Champions - We Will Rock You

We Will Rock You, the so-called ‘Queen’ musical, has a pedigree that puts it half way up the line of greatness by virtue of its ‘Mercury’ music, in the same way that the words ‘Mamma Mia’ positively raise the eyebrows of any die hard musical fan.

However, with a score that would challenge any seasoned performer, the added strength of this production is the versatility of its actors.

One of the hardest roles to take on any stage is that of the understudy because you are invariably called on to deliver at the highest level, sometimes with just minutes to spare; the leading man has fallen, someone has lost their voice, the ‘star’ is having a hissy fit and can’t go on. But deliver you must.

At Leeds Grand last year Emily Olive Boyd – loosely referred to as ‘Ensemble’ in the programme – played the role of Killer Queen….brilliantly. Last night she was part of the wider company as Jenny O’Leary stepped up to the plate to play, equally well, the same part.

November 2019 saw Anna Davey, another member of the ‘ensemble’ as Scaramouche. This time the somewhat quirky Elena Skye took the lead. And there are other examples.

Save to say there is considerable talent on the We Will Rock You stage and if good things come in small packages, then this small, tightknit company must surely be among the best?

We Will Rock You, penned by the iconic band and funny man cum novelist cum writer, Ben Elton tells the story of a sterile, dystopian society in which the Killer Queen – a half human half digital megalomaniac - rules supreme. Music is all but dead and a society of brainwashed imbeciles walk the planet in a state of myopic control.

But Scaramouche and Galileo are two misfits eager to restore the natural order by taking on Globalsoft Corporation and working with rebel Bohemians to once more ‘release the rock’.

The libretto, heavily updated since the show first aired in 2002, is full of up-to-the-minute references and is genuinely both clever and funny.

Ian McIntosh as Galileo, the Messianic figure charged with releasing the rock once more, continues as a superb anchor to the show, charged with carrying the Freddie Mercury vocal score – demanding to say the least – and I enjoyed Elena Skye as Scaramouche for the very reasons that I know others didn’t: she was quirky and fidgety which, for me, added to her part; this time Skye was a few degrees west of the Hebrides and I really enjoyed her characterisation…she also has an amazing set of pipes.

Michael McKell as Buddy – the leader at rebel base, Hotel California – is equally funny as he was first time round with his wonderful parody of Mick Jagger, despite carrying the Sunday school name of Buddy Holly and the Crickets!

The brilliance of the show is because everything Queen and music related has been thrown in the air. It’s all there but is heavily mixed up: lyrics, song titles and so on. The humour is in its subtle but gradual unravelling.

If you like Queen’s music, you will love this show. If you don’t, stay away because the ghost of Sir Freddie permeates it at every corner, and the music of Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon will haunt you all the way home long after curtain down!

We Will Rock You
Bradford Alhambra
Until Saturday 22nd February