I’ve always been something of a defender for We Will Rock You. Yes, it’s a shameless jukebox show, and yes, Ben Elton’s script isn’t nearly as good or as smart as it could (or should) be, but you can tell that they made a serious effort to create something interesting and it’s paid off. It’s also one of the first shows I reviewed on this site.
So when offered a deal I couldn’t refuse on tickets, I gladly snapped them up. And in retrospect, I was a bit harsh on my prior worth paying - only £15? What was I thinking?
Anyways, most of my prior comments stand as written, but as always, a few changes have been made and a new cast are in, so here goes again with the magic bullet points.
-Some of the background animations have been changed. They still look good, and somehow WWRY manages to be the only show to go nuts with the light boards and NOT make my eyes hurt, perhaps because the lighting in general is so damn impressive.
-Michael Jackson has been added to the list of those who died early. But where the hell is Keith Moon?
-I went on what turned out to be the night of a thousand understudies. John Boydon was again on as Galileo in the first act, playing the role as a bit more stupid and his ticks were more pronounced than I remember. His voice was also going, and he was replaced in the second act by Matthew McKenna who was excellent as Galileo’s more confident side.
-Continuing the understudy trend, TV casting reject Rachel Tucker was on as Scaramouche. To be honest, I think this is the perfect role for her. She wails on the numbers, and brings a completely new take to the role: rather than the fiesty cockney she has a heavy Scottish accent and speaks with a slow burning and intentional sarcasm. She may not be as fierce as other Scaramouches, but it works brilliantly.
-In a rare occurrence, Mazz Murray was out and Rebecca McKinnis was on as the Killer Queen. It was nice to see a new take on the role, but Ms. McKinniss didn’t do very much to make the role her own. Her voice was also on the thin side and she lacked the command presence during her songs that Ms. Murray or the original Killer Queen, Sharon D. Clarke, possessed.
-Rounding out the swings, Amanda Coutts was on in Ms. Tucker’s regular track as Meat and Rakesh Boury as Britney Spears. The duo were fine, nothing to really comment on here.
-Gary Lake is a rather crass Pop, and it’s amazing that Alex Bourne can still be excited about doing the show every night after how many years in?
-The ensemble need a dance call. Some of the choreography was out of sync and you can see where bits and pieces have been revised over the years because some people do the old moves and some the new ones...
-I was off to the side in the rear stalls and the sound was an issue - the lyrics were totally drowned at times (Seven Seas of Rhye). Then again, most people are expected to know the words going in. I don’t recall having these problems when sitting in the centre, but I also didn’t note anything in the prior review so it’s hard to remember.
In short? We Will Rock You is still a fun night out for Queen fans and tourists and well worth a visit to say you’ve gone. The design aspects are still impressive, and the cast work their butts off. And dude. It’s Queen.
Where: Dominion Theatre
When: Open Run. Check listings for times.
Concessions: £20 student tickets, best left when the BO opens; £13.50 SRO when otherwise sold out
RZ unofficial “worth paying”: £35. Half price plus fees. It’s a very good show but a standing O pay full price no matter what show? I’m still not convinced, especially with how much better the book could be.
RZ other notes: There are a lot of tourists and “not often at the theatre” types here. They liked to go to the loo during the show. Very annoying.