We Will Rock You at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton REVIEW: 'One of the best musicals I have ever had the privilege of watching'

The cast of We Will Rock You in action. Picture by Johan PerssonThe cast of We Will Rock You in action. Picture by Johan Persson
The cast of We Will Rock You in action. Picture by Johan Persson
‘We sit alone and watch your light.‘Our only friend, through teenage nights.

‘And everything we want to get.

‘We download from the internet.’A wonderfully witty rewritten opening to Live Aid favourite Radio Ga Ga set the scene as one of the longest-running jukebox musicals, We Will Rock You, returned to Southampton’s Mayflower last night for only the second time and nine years after its debut.

Based on a time some way in the future, the (vague) narrative concerns a group of Bohemians trying to bring rock music back in an age where everyone dresses the same, free thinking is outlawed and musical instruments are banned.

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Two students at Ga Ga University, Galileo Figaro and a girl he names Scaramouche – you can already see where this is heading – refuse to conform, escape (from their reality) and eventually link up with a group of Bohemians thanks to the improbably named Britney Spears and his (yes, his) girlfriend Ozzy Osbourne.

They aim to bring down the Killer Queen ruling over a society where everyone spends most of the time stroking their smartphones and going online – the musical could be set in 2020, obviously! – find the missing axe and save us all from the evils of soulless X-Factor style music.

Helped immensely by the recent Bohemian Rhapsody film, the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen remains as popular as ever – possibly more so even than at some points in their stellar career.

Hence not only was last night’s opening show at Mayflower sold out, so are the rest of this week’s performances. All tickets went months ago. But the great news is that, for the first time since We Will Rock You premiered in London in 2002, it’s coming to Portsmouth for a week-long stay at the King’s Theatre from June 8.

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The sell-out audience were treated to a simply superb two-and-a-bit hours of 25 Queen songs allied with stunning choreography and stage sets. The standing ovation was richly deserved for a performance which was often very funny – the line ‘Britney Spears died for this’ is simply hysterical – touching at times and always amazing to watch. A non-stop nod to famous musicians and songs provided many clever moments as well.

Memorable moments, too – starting as soon as Elena Skye (Scaramouche) began singing a spine-tingling version of Somebody to Love not long after we first met her character who was burning with individualism and overflowing with sarcastic humour (‘I am not your chick – do I have feathers? Do I lay eggs?’)

Her voice was simply sensational throughout, but she was not alone – Ian McIntosh as Galileo and Jenny O’Leary as the brilliant Killer Queen were also more than capable of a vocal that Freddie himself would have been proud of.

The crowds came in their hundreds to hear the songs we all know off by heart, and to applaud an extremely talented cast and ensemble.

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But hopefully society will one day heed the messages in Radio Ga Ga:

‘Hope to record our life online.

‘Touch any key, the world is mine.

‘We're lost in space.

‘But we don't care.

‘Without your light our world's not there.

‘We watch our shows.

‘We watch your stars.

‘Across our screens for hours and hours.

‘We hardly need our eyes or ears.

‘We just log on and dreams appear.’

We need to use our eyes and ears, for the grim future on view for the Ga Ga University students is a smart preview of the way our world is heading.

Our eyes and our ears certainly came in handy at Mayflower for one of the best musicals I have ever had the privilege of watching.

If you love rock music, use yours this summer and make sure you catch this show at the King’s Theatre.

Get ready to rock, Portsmouth!

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