We Will Rock You Reviews – London Coliseum

Reviews are coming in for the latest West End run of Queen rock musical We Will Rock You.

The show is currently playing the London Coliseum for a summer season, running until 27 August 2023.

The cast features comedian, director – and We Will Rock You writer and director – Ben Elton as The Rebel Leader, with Brenda Edwards as Killer Queen, Lee Mead as Khashoggi, Ian McIntosh as Galileo Figaro, and Elena Skye as Scaramouche.

The cast is completed by Christine Allado (Meat), Adrian Hansel (Brit), Jenny O’Leary (alternate Killer Queen) and the ensemble comprises Glenn Adamson, Laura Ava-Scott, Esme Bacalla-Hayes, Liam Buckland, David Burilin, Victoria Collins, Isaac Edwards, Leanne Garretty, Lucy Glover, Ryesha Higgs, Ellis Linford-Pill, Shak Mancel James, David McIntosh, Danny Nattrass, Jarryd Nurden, Sam Robinson, Madison Swan, Karen Walker and Rebecca Wickes.

We Will Rock You features over 24 of Queen’s greatest hits including “We Are The Champions”, “Radio Ga Ga”, “I Want To Break Free”, “Somebody To Love”, “Killer Queen”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Under Pressure”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Another One Bites The Dust” and “We Will Rock You”.

The show first premiered 20 years ago at the Dominion Theatre in May 2002 and was an immediate hit, running for over 12 years until May 2014.

Check out reviews from The Times, The Telegraph, the Evening Standard and more, with further reviews to follow.

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We Will Rock You reviews

The Times

"The success of this juggernaut is baffling"

"When Ben Elton’s futuristic homage to Queen opened in London 21 years ago, it received an infamous mauling from outraged critics. Wouldn’t it be fun to discover, all these years later, that Elton was right and the stuffed shirts were wrong?"

"Watching this production carried me back to the bleak night, long ago, when I had the misfortune to sit through the live version of Mrs Brown’s Boys. Elton’s script is almost as slapdash, shoehorning songs into one scene after another like the musical finale in that old children’s TV favourite, Crackerjack!"

"The sound at this performance was atrocious throughout, the super-efficient band stationed above the stage drowning out most of the vocalists (I’m told changes have now been made to the balance). It was even harder to follow the details of the self-consciously daffy storyline."

"Ian McIntosh waded into the grandstanding vocals as Galileo and Elena Skye delivered deadpan one-liners as Scaramouche. But this is the kind of soulless megamusical that will one day probably be performed by AI-generated human facsimiles."

Clive Davis, The Times
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The Telegraph

"Ben Elton singing Queen? It’s a kinda tragic"

"Elton's critic-confounding, crowd-pulling jukebox musical is back, it's enduring lameness not helped by his unwisely joining the cast"

"A finger in either ear seemed the aptest response to Elton warbling. Toes curl, possibly irreparably, as that familiar face, sporting a blond hippy wig and roadie-style flared jeans and sleeveless jacket, launches, reedily, into These Are the Days of Our Lives in the second half."

"Fans are here, of course, for those big bombastic hits, which are duly blasted out. To be fair, the projected visuals are techno-whizzy and the cast pretty fizzy (Ian McIntosh and Elena Skye committedly play the young rebel lovers Galileo and Scaramouche)."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Guardian

"Ben Elton stars as royally ridiculous Queen musical returns"

"Rousing songs but threadbare plot as Earth has been conquered, renamed iPlanet and – inexplicably – can only be saved by a band of rock’n’rollers"

"Some bad news for those fed up with recent speculation over artificial intelligence’s future takeover of planet Earth: the return of this 2002 musical, turbo-powered by Queen’s rock anthems and under-powered by Ben Elton’s book, dramatises the same moral panic."

"They plod through a threadbare plot with bursts of spurious song, with leading dialogue such as: “Are you ready to break free?” (cue music). We are grateful for the singing though because the Queen songs – from A Kind of Magic to Don’t Stop Me Now – are effectively sung on the whole."

"It is still plain to see why the show endured for its original 12-year run at the Dominion: the songs transcend their context and keep their rousing, big stadium sound."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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Daily Mail

"Ben Elton in his own Queen musical? You wouldn't rush to rhapsodise about it..."

"Not even the sight of Ben Elton in a cheesy Bjorn Borg wig and headband was enough to save the Queen tribute show, which crawled back into the West End for 12 weeks last night."

"We are subjected to a sometimes incomprehensible post-apocalypse schlock rock saga set in the sci-fi future where all music is strictly controlled by the ‘Global-Soft’ corporation – and yet everyone, everywhere, constantly bursts into song."

"No gag is too lame in Elton’s dialogue, which recycles lyrics from ancient rock anthems. Our befuddled hero Galileo Figaro (Ian McIntosh) does, however, prove himself a karaoke ace as he emulates Freddie Mercury’s vocal gymnastics."

"Only Brenda Edwards as the wicked Killer Queen had the lungs and diction to contend with a ferociously amplified band."

Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail
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i News

"This show must not go on! Queen musical is utter bohemian crapsody"

"What a grim, joyless, deafening thud of an evening"

"Who needs theatre critics anyway? Certainly not this Queen musical, which received abysmal reviews when it opened at London’s Dominion Theatre in 2002 and went on to run for 12 triumphant years. I managed to avoid the show the first time around, but on the evidence presented here I feel confident in stating that it hasn’t improved over the decades. What a grim, joyless, deafening thud of an evening."

"The lengthy gaps between songs are punishing, so my initial wish was that they would ditch the purgatorial plot/script and simply belt out the music, not least to stop it from being randomly crowbarred into the narrative (“Fat Bottomed Girls” is a particularly unlikely fit). Yet the actors are overamplified to the point of distortion, with a miking system that isn’t entirely reliable and the large ensemble is entirely wasted in some markedly unsophisticated choreography. Naff – not to mention slightly out-of-focus – video graphic projections provide an ugly backdrop."

Fiona Mountford, i News
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The Evening Standard

"We will rob you, more like"

"A lazy, exploitative piece of work"

"This insultingly slapdash musical by Ben Elton and Queen is possibly the most cynical piece of entertainment I’ve ever seen. The pomp-rockers’ impressive greatest hits are hammered willy-nilly into a nonsensical futuristic plot. The onstage band is ok, but that’s a low bar. There are two singing styles: loud and louder, both equally unclear."

"The choreography recalls an aerobics video, the mostly projected sets are vestigial, and the costumes appalling. The acting is OTT and full of pre-emptive, knowing nods to the crappiness of the whole enterprise. All this in a show that purports to be about rebellion and “the kids” taking back creativity from a corporate, sanitised culture. My irony glands exploded two hours into the three-hour running time. Is English National Opera seriously being booted out of the Coliseum for the likes of this?"

"This mix of gormless dystopia, cliché and snickering puerility meanders on. Elton not only directs, imperceptibly, but also plays Bohemian leader Pop, badly. Great songs – Under Pressure, One Vision and Don’t Stop Me Now – are slotted in with decreasing relevance and increasing levels of cruise-ship-entertainment incoherence."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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"Ben Elton’s Queen musical is still dreadful"

"Good and evil play out with pantomime-esque comicality, except it’s not funny: just painful."

"The stage design is stunning, with whirring lines of code and a bright, hyper-futuristic mall on huge screens. But no amount of pretty backgrounds can save poor writing. There’s a loose storyline awkwardly sculpted around Queen songs (‘What more could you possibly want?’ ‘I want to break free’), scattered with distasteful jokes (‘you’ll awake the sleeping beast’) and dated pop culture references (‘I like big butts…’ and ‘who let the dogs out’) that very quickly become intolerable."

"The highlights, of course, are the songs, yet the delivery largely feels unpolished and lacking in any sort of stage presence..."

Chiara Wilkinson, TimeOut
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The Sunday Times

"We Will Rock You is back again — but is it any good?"

"Ben Elton’s crowd-pleaser once tormented the critics, and history will judge if it’s still critic-proof"

"It is still a torment. Equally, it will probably make another fortune for Elton, who takes a central role. He is terrible. Can’t sing. Can’t dance. He half-heartedly mines his 1980s man-of-the-left persona, but we all know he is stonkingly rich and lives in Australia."

"The show was critic-proof in 2002 and history may repeat itself. Monday’s stalls were filled with creaky Queen fans, their average age only lowered by a group of Chelsea pensioners. Audience members clapped along to the rhythm, just missing the beat."

"At the root of this show is a strong idea: that today’s youth, hectored and joyless, could do with rediscovering the wildness of classic rock. It’s just a pity that the production is inept and feels so cynically commercial."

Quentin Letts, The Sunday Times
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📷 Main photo: We Will Rock You - London Coliseum. Photo by Manuel Harlan

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