As a reviewer I often get asked by friends or colleagues, “Was it really that good?” or, even better, “Is it worth me buying a ticket?”. My pre-emptive strike on this one is a resounding, “oh, yes!”. If you’ve seen the show already, you know what’s coming; if you haven’t, I suggest you book your tickets now because by the time word gets out, they’ll be in hot demand.
This is a first-class production brimming with hi-octane exuberance from start to finish, super-strong leads, an energetic young ensemble cast and a cracking band. Add to that the visual spectacle of a huge video screen and the show reaches a whole new stratospheric level. The show is wall-to-wall great music from one of the greatest rock bands ever, threaded together with the pithy, observational wit of Ben Elton as he takes a poke at the absurdities of modern life.
OK, so it is all assembled around a daft, rather irrelevant plot, but I doubt if anyone cares beyond the obvious downside that when you have a Killer Queen as good as Naomi Ferguson, you don’t get much of her in the second half.
For a first night it was immaculate, especially given the technology involved, so if there were any glitches, they were of the sort that only the tech crew would notice. Lighting and sound were faultless.
As the hits just kept coming, so did the laughs and I couldn’t believe that the time went by so quickly. Caleb Jago-Ward and Jane Leonard were excellent as Galileo and Scaramouche respectively, both fabulous singers singing what sounded like their ideal roles, belting out the big numbers but also pulling on the heartstrings with a touching Who Wants To Live Forever. Jago-Ward and Leonard both relished being front-and centre, making for a highly entertaining pairing.
Similarly, Bohemian couple Catherine Hay (Oz) and Tom Hart (Brit) injected pace, humour and gutsy vocals. Oz’s big moment came in No-One But You and the pair really rocked the house with I Want It All. Aaron Boyce was a suitably Ringo-esque Buddy, his moment in the sun being a well-taken These Are The Days Of Our Lives, while Jack Fraser made the part of archetypal Bond villain Khashoggi his own, as well as Seven Seas of Rhye.
As I’ve alluded to earlier on, one of the highlights of the show was Naomi Ferguson, commanding the stage in all her scenes, singing absolutely superbly throughout and making for a truly fearsome Killer Queen. Covering a wide vocal range across her songs, she powered through the big numbers – an outstanding vocal performance but also a gripping stage presence.
The show runs until April 13 – the opening night audience was on its feet at the end and having an absolute ball so here’s hoping for full houses for the rest of the season. As the title of the show suggests they will, indeed, rock you.