Bristol Post

Bristol gets rocked

- Bristol Hippodrome

FOR a show which among its initial reviews was described as “guaranteed to bore you rigid” and criticisin­g Ben Elton for having written such a risible story, it is showing remarkable staying power.

Having survived such damning criticisms, it went on to break the record for the longest-running show at London’s Dominion Theatre, and now, still drawing big audiences, sets out on its 20th anniversar­y tour of the country.

The principal reason for this jukebox musical’s continued success lies not in the fine staging, excellent use of video and lighting and first-class musical backing from the on-stage band, or even the good performanc­es from the seven principals and energetic ensemble. It’s the music and lyrics of Queen that are behind that success.

The impression lead singer Freddie Mercury and the rest of the band made on pop culture from the time that they hit the big time to Mercury’s death in 1991 was colossal, and it’s the opportunit­y to share 22 of those magical numbers, etched deeply in the minds and hearts of so many lifelong fans, that is the main draw for this show.

It is all very well to have that sort of material at your disposal, but if the singers and musicians assembled are not good enough to bring that essential touch of Queen to the show then you have a failure on your hands.

Ben Elton, who takes on the role of director for this tour, laid the foundation for success by creating a band good enough to play Queen and Stuart Morley’s orchestrat­ions in a manner that made you believe they were members of the original band.

Matching them vocally were Ian

McIntosh and Elena Skye in the leading roles of Galileo and Scaramouch­e, and in gentler tones Michael McKell as Cliff.

You could go through the list of well-known numbers and pick out other places where the other four principals shone, because this was a cast that had strength in depth.

Backed and fully supported by an ensemble who were not carrying any dead weight among their numbers, this was a production that bounded along at a cracking pace from the word go.

In the last few years or so rock music has rather lost its place as the premier form of popular music, but judging from the reception this musical received it still has quite a few more shots left in the locker before it runs out of steam.

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 ?? Photograph: Johan Persson ?? We Will Rock You is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday
Photograph: Johan Persson We Will Rock You is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday

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