Over 40 young people have reason to sing “We are the Champions” after a sell-out performance on Saturday.
Packed to the rafters, The Boulevard Theatre in Milford Haven burst into life with the sights and sounds of a musical based around the timeless rock music of Queen. With great acting, dancing and singing enhanced with projections, lighting, soundtrack and a giant dose of humour, the show was unmissable fun for everyone.
We Will Rock You! (Young@Part) is a 70-minute adaptation of the musical written by Ben Elton around songs by the rock band Queen. It‘s set in a dystopian future where the earth has been renamed the iPlanet and is run by a corporation, Globalsoft. Conformity rules, with GaGa kids all dressing the same and listening to computer-generated music, real instruments having been outlawed and rock music forgotten. It’s a romp, not meant to be taken too seriously, with lots of borrowed mythology like the “axe in the stone” and a “bright star” to show the way.
That said, there were some touching moments, silly as the story may be. Rhys Williams and Ruby Panesar were absolute stars as dreamer Galileo Figaro and social misfit Scaramouche, both wanting to “break free” from a future-world tyranny akin to the Blue Meanies of Yellow Submarine. Boy, those two can act! And dance! And sing! Scaramouche is taunted by four GaGa kids and dreams about “Somebody to Love”.
Ruby, whose character’s anti-clone dress sense already brought to mind Cyndi Lauper, is blessed with a similarly wonderful, sparky, high voice - think Rachel Sweet - that cuts above the mix and is perfect for the rebellious charm of Scaramouche. Rhys, meanwhile, has a gentler melodic, soulful voice that gets better with every performance. The result of the two voices blending was a heavenly harmony. In terms of dance and movement, Rhys also seemed very much at home with the pose of a rock ’n’ roll singer, while the wheelchair routine was inventive choreography.
In her role as Globalsoft Police Commander ‘Khashoggi’, Seren Abbott was a delight - that is to say, delightfully loathsome! While Georgie Rochester - only weeks after playing the tragic Fantine in Les Miserables (School Edition) - was transformed into the awesome, terrifying Killer Queen - once again with some fantastic singing to add to the role. The character’s individualistic clothing and ‘prima donna‘ performance underlines the notion that the head of Globalsoft doesn’t think that the rules need apply to her.
With Claire Hooper-Rees and Bethan Raymond as Bohemians Brit and Oz, and Ethan Clancy as the hippie librarian Buddy, all of the show’s main parts were held by teenagers with extraordinary talent for acting and singing. Meanwhile, a large cast of younger actors provided a spectacle of dance and mime - they did the 'brain-drained' bit very well indeed! - as well as small acting parts and joining in the songs.
The “Miracle” of it all is that these 42 youngsters between 17 and 7 had precisely two weeks to put the show together - so they must have been “Under Pressure”, but they knocked it out of the park! They remembered all their lines, all the words of the songs, all the stage directions, and what’s more, they were “having such a good time.” They should all be very proud of themselves.
Commenting shortly after the performance, one audience member said: “We loved every moment! The acting, the singing, the choreography, the costumes, and the technical wizardry all combined to make for a magical evening! Well done to all involved.“
We Will Rock You (Young@Part) was directed by Drew Baker, with choreography by Katy Thomas, props by Sophie Marriott and musical direction by Clive Raymond. Stage Manager was Arron Evans.
In addition to those mentioned above, the cast included Jemima Kenny, Ariana Chapman and Molly Iggledon as Bots; Ava Church and Eliza Peach as GaGa Students; Bethan Packard, Freya Hughes, Darcie Hicks and Poppy James as Teen Queens; Morgan Lewis as Globalsoft Manager; Tommy Turner, Erin Tilling, Oliver Holloway, Honey Thomas, Liam Franz, Harley Franz, Finlay James and Evan Houldsworth as Bohemians; plus Alisha Panesar, Alys Langdon, Annabelle Evans, Brogan Collins, Darcy Rochester, Delyn Hancock-Phillips, Emily Heaton, Eva Rees, Imogen Allen, Isabelle Allen, Isobel Heaton, Josie Hawke and Sophia Ashton in the ensemble.
To finish as they did, here is an encore of Bohemian Rhapsody, as performed in rehearsal by the cast.