Sad Revival of the Queen Musical
“I Want It All and I Want It Now. “
Lyric from I Want It All
I have seen We Will Rock You twice, once in May 2002 and again this week. Unlike many of my critical colleagues, I was prepared to tolerate the excessively silly story line invented to incorporate Queen’s hits into a jukebox musical. Mamma Mia was the first musical to have done so. I didn’t condemn We Will Rock You as not being the passionate story of Freddie Mercury and his battle against AIDS but could see that the Queen fans were getting what they had wanted, Queen’s music. I didn’t count myself a Queen fan in 2002 and, if anything, I recognise that some of their songs are classics and now I looked forward to hearing them.
So how was this show at the cash strapped Coliseum in 2023? The production is frankly terrible. The choreography is messy, the original Gaga dummy footage fails to work as a backdrop to new Gaga costumes and Ben Elton as Pop is embarrassing and in no way a draw.
I might have enjoyed it more with my eyes shut. Ian Macintosh is outstanding as Galileo Figaro as he can deliver the great Freddie Mercury hits with full force but my favourite was Christine Allado who plays the transgendered named Meat. Allado’s rendering of “Can Anyone Find Me Someone to Love?” is fabulous. In 2002 it was faintly amusing to hear the big boy called Britney and the girl Meat after Meatloaf but in 2023 it is merely cheesy. Lee Mead is miscast as Khashogi. Brenda Edwards is a creditable Killer Queen.
The beautiful song “These Were the Days of Our Life” is given to Ben Elton whose singing voice is not good enough. Elton’s humour is sometimes bad taste and it all feels a bit desperate but I suppose the 12 long years at the Dominion followed by tours has made him rich. He breaks the fourth wall often which of course undermines those singer/actors trying for something believable.
The other problem at the Coliseum is the behaviour of the audience. People are filming on their phones whole numbers, their phone screens distracting everyone sitting behind them and front of house staff not intervening. Then there are those that chatter all the way through as if they are at home watching their televisions and get cross and aggressive when you ask them to stop talking. And maybe worst of all are those sing along audience members who inflict their mediocre singing voice on the rest of us.
I saw Rod Stewart rushing to get out of the Coliseum, not going to the Afterparty in case anyone asked him what he thought of the show. Well that’s a good idea, how about a Rod Stewart musical with good production values? We Will Rock You can be grateful Theatrevibe doesn’t give stars.
We Will Rock You
Book by Ben Elton
Music and Lyrics by Queen
Director Ben Elton
Shak Mancel James
Director: Ben Elton
Set and video Designer: Stiffish
Choreographer: Jacob Fearey
Costume Designer: Kentaur
Lighting Designer: Luke Rolls and Bob Sinclair
Sound Designer: Rory Madden and Toby Chester
Musical Supervisor: Brian May and Roger Taylor
Musical Director: Stuart Morley
Running Time: Two hours 40 minutes including the interval
Booking to 27th August 2023
St Martin’s Lane
London WC2N 4ES
Rail/Tube : Charing Cross
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the
London Coliseum on 7th June 2023