We Will Rock You
Queen & Ben Elton
Queen Theatrical Productions, Phil McIntyre Entertainments & Tribeca Theatrical Productions
Opera House, Blackpool
If ever a show delivered on the promise of its title—and in a town that knows a thing or two about rock!
There’s even a few bars of "We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside" thrown into the musical for good measure.
Little wonder then that it’s been one of this giant venue’s fastest-selling shows in recent times, with a near-capacity crowd for opening night. Wrapped around the music of Queen, its popularity will have been further boosted by the 2018 biopic about the band.
Then again, We Will Rock You has been a self-propelling success since Queen and comedian Ben Elton first devised the musical back in 2002. It had its regional première in Manchester seven years later, when lead guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor even turned up for the encore.
No such luck this time round, but the show still bottles up "Bohemian Rhapsody" for its final curtain call, and that’s after two dozen other gold-plated hits from a remarkable music catalogue.
Ben Elton has wrapped them, loosely, around a story which pits Galileo Figaro (Ian McIntosh) and Scaramouche (Elena Skye) as leaders of a youthful Bohemian revolution against the Killer Queen (Jenny O’Leary). The characters spring naturally enough from the lyrics and song titles, while in between it all Elton weaves a lot of wry humour about rock music, some of it bordering on the bawdy. It’s been brought bang up to date with nods to gender fluidity, X Factor and music’s more recent newcomers.
It’s also been totally refreshed by a monumental staging design, from ‘entertainment architects’ Stufish, further enhanced by stunning video projections. This production actually outclasses the Manchester performances, not least thanks to an outstanding set of singing voices amongst the 22-strong cast. McIntosh and Skye lead from the front, backed by a remarkably strong sound from a six-piece band.
A Blackpool Rock Opera indeed.
Reviewer: David Upton