My first trip to the Dominion Theatre was in 2008 after several years of being told by friends that – despite my preference for ballet and ballroom – I had to see rock extravaganza We Will Rock You. Since this first introduction I have faithfully returned year after year and have developed something of a love/dislike relationship with Ben Elton’s musical, now in its tenth year.
To start with the positives, and there are many, as any show with longevity must have. The brains behind the show clearly have no problems attracting talented vocalists who can captivate an audience in moments and stop my parents from saying, “they’re no Freddie Mercury” five minutes in. Sabrina Aloueche is sensational in the role of Scaramouche; her voice effortlessly fills the theatre and together with her feisty attitude and expressive eyes I have no doubt she sparkles night after night. The exuberant Gaga girls that surround her in the opening scene are brilliantly kitsch and firmly establish that anyone here for a Queen tribute band should probably head for the exit pretty pronto.
Another honourable mention goes to Mazz Murray who has played the Killer Queen on and off for nearly ten years and the reason why I first saw the show. As you can imagine with a band as recognized as Queen, this show is all about the voices, and as horrifically clichéd as it sounds something about this woman’s voice gives me shivers every time. I have seen the show three times now and each time the first twenty minutes simply acts as anticipation for her magnificent entry to the stage and the first terrifyingly powerful note she sings. She is never less than in complete control up on her rotating platform where she surveys the audience with a confident flick of the head. Whether it had been Elton’s aim to create a likeable ‘baddie’ I have doubts, but I love the spirit of the character she portrays nonetheless.
As far as the negatives are concerned I am just going to come straight out and say it. It might be what many have thought but not wanted to say for fear of not paying enough respect to the cast but here goes: The storyline is absolutely ridiculous. The love story which ensues between Galileo and Scaramouche is inevitable from the moment they meet and spontaneously burst into a rendition of Under Pressure. However, by the time we’ve been introduced to a group of curiously dressed characters called the Bohemians – who have names such as Britney Spears and Bob the Builder – I’m starting to wish they could all just belt out We Are The Champions so I can get my interval ice cream.
Perhaps these criticisms are a little uncalled for as they don’t seem to have bothered anyone else in tonight’s excitable audience. All in all, the show’s producers have their priorities spot on, choosing to focus on the delivery of the songs and casting those with voices who can do more than justice to Queen’s legendary status and match up to the place their songs hold in hearts young and old.