Touring – reviewed at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London
Back for its 2022 tour, We Will Rock You is set in a dystopian future where “real” music has been outlawed and replaced with manufactured pop. Society is lived online and it’s up to a group of Bohemians to travel across the Seven Seas of Rye, declare themselves the champions and bring back rock and roll and freedom for all.
This truly is a show about the music so you can somewhat overlook book issues but in terms of pacing it’s a little clunky. The first act is chockablock with world-building including long-winded character and plot introductions; and act two is a game of musical tetris where all the popular tunes we haven’t already heard, are fired one after the other.
In this production the book also has some modern updates thrown in here and there (some of which fall flat), but the rest of the set and staging doesn’t match up and it certainly feels like it missed a chance to be revamped for 2022. There’s an element of the outdated screens that does feel fitting but coupled with the budget wigs and costumes, it lacks the sparkle you expect with a tour of this scale.
The heart of We Will Rock You is certainly the cast and the show would be equally as good if it was just a concert of Queen’s greatest hits performed by the superstars on stage. As leading man and hero Galileo, Ian McIntosh is wonderful. His vocals soar with so much power behind them and he really embodies the spirit of Queen. Alongside him, Elena Skye as Scaramouche is a dream. Giving major Kerry Ellis vibes, albeit in a different role, Elena’s voice is outstanding and she really works with the limited script to make it funny and engaging.
As Killer Queen, Jenny O’Leary is a vocal powerhouse. Her command of the stage is enthralling to watch and she rightfully earns some of the biggest applause of the show. Michael McKell, David Michael Johnson and Martina Ciabatti Mennell also give strong performances. The rest of the cast and ensemble are also very good vocally but there is at times a lack of tight synchronicity that detracts from the clone message which is being put across.
The performances are absolutely top notch but the production itself gives more ‘high-school final show’ as opposed to ‘big-buck tour’ and for a show with such bold songs and ideas, there’s no continuity or backup given through the sets or costumes, and they feel lacklustre in comparison to the score.
Faults aside, if you want face melting vocals and all your favourite Queen songs, absolutely take a trip, but for a show that feels luxe and finessed, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
photo credit: Johan Persson