Prepare to be rocked when a show set to the music of Queen rolls into the region. Katy Wheeler speaks to one of the stars of We Will Rock You.
WE Will Rock You has been getting theatre audiences out of their seats and dancing for a decade – now the musical experience is set to be super-sized.
For the first time, the musical is touring with its first arena tour. It means the marriage of Queen’s music and Ben Elton’s writing will be seen on a whole new scale.
One of the stars of the tour is former Coronation Street star Kevin Kennedy, who will reprise the role of Pop, a librarian who is stuck in his hippie past and is searching to find answers to the end of rock music.
Kevin, who shot to fame as Curly Watts in ITV’s hit soap, said: “I love the whole thing. It’s a funny Ben Elton story, but it’s backed up by the music of Queen.
“It’s an irreverent look at populist music and TV, the whole show is tremendous.”
Kevin and his co-star, X Factor finalist Brenda Edwards, are starring in the West End production at the Dominion Theatre and will join the UK leg of the world arena tour to perform in Nottingham, Sheffield and Newcastle.
They will be joined by MiG Ayesa, from Rock of Ages and Thriller Live, who will be reprising the role of Galileo and Lucie Jones, who shot to fame as an X Factor finalist in 2009 and went on to perform in Les Miserables, who will perform the role of Meat.
They will be breathing new life into more than 24 of Queen’s biggest hit songs set to a futuristic story written and directed by Ben Elton.
“This show is all about legend,” says Ben Elton. “We take the legend of Queen and create our own fantastical story of young kids battling the mighty corporations, who want to suppress their individuality and their love of music.
“They need a hero who can help them in their struggle and we have two – the dreamer Galileo and the sassy rock chick Scaramouche.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Queen fan or not when it comes to enjoying the musical,” says Kevin. “I wasn’t a massive Queen fan when I started on the show, I was more of a Thin Lizzy fan, but you can’t fail to be impressed by the quality of the songwriting.
“I remember coming to Sunderland on the UK theatre tour of the show and audiences lapped it up.
“You always find that northern audiences know how to enjoy themselves.
“You have to adjust the show for arenas, because there’s a lot more people and you have to alter the size of things like effects, but Queen were always a stadium band so it’s a perfect marriage.”
The London production of the show has recently celebrated its 10th birthday and it is the longest running musical ever staged at the West End’s Dominion Theatre.
In 2011 it was crowned the UK’s favourite show at the prestigious Olivier awards receiving the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award, the only category decided entirely by members of the public.
Speaking about the popularity of the show’s music, Kevin said: “Queen’s music will never die. The songs are so well manufactured, strong pieces of work and that stands out forever.”
Kevin is of course remembered for his role as unlucky-in-love Curly Watts in Coronation Street, a role he says he cherishes.
“I like theatre and TV,” he said. “Acting is essentially showing off and if you show off to a theatre full of people that’s cool, or showing off to 17million people on TV, that’s cool too.
“With Curly, there’s 20 years of good solid stuff there.
“I feel very proud to be remembered for that. For him to be remembered the way he is testament to the writing of the show.”
* We Will Rock You will be at Newcastle’s Metro Arena from June 5-9. Tickets priced £19.50-£42.50 are available from Tel. 0844 493 6666.