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We Will Rock You at Birmingham Hippodrome Review

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Review of hit Queen musical on 20th anniversary tour
Queen's timeless music is even more at the forefront of everyone's minds after being the opening soundtrack of HRH's Platinum Jubilee concert.

We will rock you, Birmingham Hippodrome
The musical is set in the future

So it's good timing for We Will Rock You musical to be back in Birmingham offering the chance to enjoy 24 of the band's biggest hits amidst a crazy, sci-fi storyline.

This year marks a staggering 20 years since the show launched and it is still drawing in the crowds. The dystopian storyline by comedian Ben Elton is silly and bizarre but this show has always been more about the music.

The show, which is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, July 30, is about a group of Bohemians hoping to bring live rock music back to a bland world of uploads and manufactured songs set 300 years in the future. They have to overcome the part robot - part human Killer Queen and her henchman Khashoggi first.

There's Mad Max meets punk costumes and a few dance routines to get things started, but ultimately it's the music everyone is here for and it doesn't disappoint. How could it with a soundtrack of hits including I Want To Break Free, Don't Stop Me Now, Killer Queen, Under Pressure, We Are The Champions and a big finale of Bohemian Rhapsody!

We will rock you, Birmingham Hippodrome
The cast all have strong voices

Ben Elton came back to direct this 20th-anniversary tour and give it a refresh. There's an obvious difference as the stage has been stripped back and you now get to see more of the live band at intervals.

There's an update on jokes too with ones added about COVID-19, Britney Spears being free and including non-binary and transgender people in the script.

It does seem fresher, although it still feels like the plot takes a back seat to rush into the next Queen song. That said, there's romance, comedy and a wonderful villainess who gets to sing a rousing routine of Fat Bottomed Girls.

Elvis, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and even the Spice Girls get a nod. When the Bohemians are trying to scramble around to piece together rock history and name themselves after 'legends', there's plenty of tongue-in-cheek jokes there too that I don't want to spoil.

The cast is always full of big voices and this time around they have noticeably gone for mainly talented stars of stage musicals rather than getting in TV names.

Lead pair Galileo and Scaramouche are played respectively by Olivier Award nominee Ian McIntosh and Elena Skye, who was in Les Misérables, and really can belt out the hits.

We will rock you, Birmingham Hippodrome
We Will Rock You is full of hits

But they are joined by a team of strong singers especially Jenny O'Leary as Killer Queen. It's Michael McKell who manages to stand out despite not having much of a singing role. He's the lynchpin for a lot of the comedy and seems to be the rock in the drama.

There's a big guitar riff leading up to the finale, which is a sure-fire way of sending everyone home with a smile on their face and Bohemian Rhapsody is a majestic close to this popular show.

For the purists, they may prefer seeing a Queen tribute band but for the added humour, theatrical spectacle and silliness of it all, We Will Rock You is a fun escape.

After two decades, this musical is still going strong with audiences, probably because it goes beyond just Queen and is a rhapsody to the rock and roll legends of the past too.

Rating : Three and a half out of five
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Why? See 2oth anniversary tour of fun Queen musical
When: Until July 30, 2022
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Birmingham, B4
Cost: From £31
Your Comment
The music of Queen is so ageless. Glad it is living on in this form.
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|5098) 42 days ago
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