The crowd that attended the premiere of We Will Rock You went Ga Ga with the stage theatrics and costumes of the hit musical, which managed to lift the heart rate of most of the audience at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland NZ.
The story, in a nutshell, is a glance into the future of a world that has been taken over by social media, digital interfaces and sameness, with the rule of the land dictated by none other than the Killer Queen (Annie Crummer). It’s a place where there is no hint of individualism and, worst still, there is no rock and roll. Doesn’t bear thinking about really. Or does it? The funny thing is that while the tale is farcical there were plenty of moments that connected to a little bit of our reality today.
While originally panned by critics when it first hit the stage at the Dominion Theatre way back in May 2002, it has since been a huge success. It’s the 15th longest-running show in West End history and has been adapted by a large number of countries including New Zealand. Being a Queen fan helps with the sometimes light storyline and, with some 30-odd classic Queen hits to tell the futuristic story, there was no way you weren’t going to hear one of your favourite tracks, if not all of them.
As the curtain came up, the spotlight was on the band above the stage, who kicked off the musical with Innuendo. Slowly the spotlight moved down to a single figure, Galileo played by William Deane, who began a little tentatively, not helped by the slightly erratic sound quality that ran through the night.
Things heated up as the Ga Ga kids hit the stage and, yep you guessed it, Radio Ga Ga flowed over the boards in a wonderful piece of choreography and lighting.
The show had some wonderful set designs and, as each main character was introduced via a Queen track, things really started to pick up some momentum. Killer Queen, with Annie Crummer, was a standout and even got some of the punters to clap along to the song.
Scaramouche, played by Bridie Dixon, was a nice shot in the arm to the overall singing and acting of the show and she delivered Somebody To Love, with the Ga Ga girls supporting, that captured the spirit of the song and of Freddie Mercury as well.
The other standouts were Brit, short for Britney Spears (Caleb Muller), Oz (Rebecca Wright) and Buddy, played by David Mackie who really brought more substance into the show along with the great costumes that the Bohemians wore during the close of the first act, being Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
Time for a wine and jibba jabber with those seated around us as the second act kicked off with a little more gusto. It seemed that the first-night jitters were somewhat washed away after the interval. The sound of the vocals improved but did from time to time miss a trick, as did some of the humour, landing a lot better in the second half.
The choice of songs really contributed to the vibe of the second act and, I suspect from the audience’s perspective, an extra wine or two helped get the punters into the action as well. This is a show that I think can really benefit from audience participation. Ok it’s no Rocky Horror Picture Show but there is enough there for many to get up and stamp their feet, even if some can’t quite keep to the beat ( I mean how hard is that really) when We Will Rock You came flooding over the stage and got the blood pumping for those in their seats.
A special nod for the most constant factor of the whole show has to go to the live band. They were a real standout and their quality and musicianship were well and truly above expectation. As the final curtain fell and the encores followed, they received the best shouts from the standing crowd.
Without giving too much of a spoiler if you haven’t seen this show before, the encore was brilliant and I thought William Deane left his best to last, making this his song of the night.
Opening night for any show is never easy, no matter how hard you want to get things right on the night there are always some teething issues and first show jitters. All those little quibbles aside it was a merry old jaunt that is well worth experiencing if you haven’t seen the show before. As Queen rightly points out The Show Must Go On!