Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
When I mentioned to my colleagues that I was going to see We Will Rock You at Blackpool Opera House they were all quite envious. A few said they had seen it before, and it was the best show they had seen so we were quite excited about seeing it too. From the minute we arrived at Blackpool Opera House there was a fantastic atmosphere, it was obvious from the number of people waiting in the Floral Hall that the theatre would be packed. Queen were such a popular band, so it was no surprise that there was a wide range of ages all waiting to see the show.
We Will Rock You is a jukebox musical based on the songs of British rock band Queen and a book written by Ben Elton. Set in the far future, in a time where music has been banned and life is entirely online, it tells the story of a group of outlaws, the Bohemians, who fight against the rule of the Killer Queen and hope one day to be freed from her tyranny.
The story starts with Galileo Figaro, a dreamer who hears words and sounds in his head but doesn’t understand their meaning. He meets with a young girl, Scaramouche, also an outsider, and together they set off to discover their destiny.
The first half of the show is filled with plenty of Queen hits, but the story is a little weak, not quite matching the high energy of the music. Starting with “Innuendo” and including “Radio Ga Ga”, “Killer Queen” and “I Want It All” the cast are fantastic to watch and listen to, but the storyline does let it down. It works but only because the music is the main focus. Things do improve after the interval when the pace picks up and there are some great one liners from the cast as well as plenty of great Queen numbers that had the audience enthralled.
Visually the show is a real spectacle. The entire set is made up of LED video panels and video is constantly used to set the scene and add to the story. I particularly found the interrogation of the Bohemians worked well with great visual effects to the music of “Flash” and “Seven Seas of Rhye”.
The video was also used when our heroes found themselves at the old Wembley stadium and the finale with “We Will Rock You”, “We Are The Champions” and, of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Costumes were good, shiny silver outfits told us that we were in the future and the rebels all wore grungy leathers.
Stars of the show were the lead couple Ian McIntosh as Galileo and Elena Skye as Scaramouche. They both had great voices with a great duet in Who Wants To Live Forever but I think my favourite was Michael McKell as Buddy, the leader of the Bohemians. He added plenty of humour to the night with lots of innuendo and double entendres and really added to the “warmth” of the show.
The unsung stars of the show for me were the live band who played all night but unfortunately remained hidden for almost the whole show. The did have a small role on the video wall towards the end of the night but I’d have enjoyed seeing them on stage.
On balance this was a great show, although the music was definitely the stronger part of the night. The finale of “Bohemian Rhapsody” had the audience on their feet singing along and was a perfect end to the show. The cast did a fantastic job of bringing to life Queen’s greatest hits and I am sure we weren’t the only ones singing Queen songs on the way home!
Judging by how full the theatre was last night it came as no surprise to hear that Friday and Saturday are already fully booked. The show is on until Saturday 11th January so if you are looking for a mid-week treat to brighten up the post-Christmas blues then I would advise you to book quickly before the rest of the tickets sell out.
Tickets cost from £17 (booking fees may apply).
We Will Rock You is at the Blackpool Opera House from 6-11 January 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 856 1111.
Winter Gardens & Opera House Theatre, 97 Church Street, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 1HL