I’ve always been partial to the Mamma Mia stage musical and the almost cringe-worthy way that the ABBA songs were woven into the plot. After the first viewing where the song placement is a genuine groan generating surprise, the light breezy plot and sense of fun make it worth seeing several times just to generate a warm feeling inside.
When the film was released I loved it too – despite the cheesiness – it was just great fun.
So this weekend I saw another “juke box” musical – this time We Will Rock You – now touring the UK and spending an extended time around Christmas at the Edinburgh Playhouse.
Whilst it does not have the same – tear jerking mother and daughter hugging each other with joy girlie nights out appeal of Mamma Mia – it does have the same cringe inducing moments when you stare at the stage with your mouth open astonished at how they have made the jump into “I want to Break Free” or “Who wants to live forever”. But the look of astonishment soon becomes a smile because this is great fun.
We are in the future and all music is computer generated rubbish (quite prophetic given that Simon Cowell seems to be taking us in that direction) – and people are fed a daily assault of radio, TV and Internet Ga Ga.
Enter hero Galileo Figaro who has dreams of past times – manifested by him constantly quoting from great old rock songs such as; “The day the music died” ; and ; “Underground over ground Wombling free” – who wants to set the world free and bring back the heart of rock.
Along the way he meets many interesting characters. Scaramouche (or “scarybush” as she becomes known) – is Galileo’s love interest (he is nicknamed Shagileo after they first get together) – provides biting wit and outrageous sarcasm. The rebels include Britney Spears – a great big Jamaican, and Meatloaf – a girl in bodice and stockings and suspenders. Together they team up with Pop (played by him that used to empty bins on Corrie and was called Curly even though he had flat hair) – and defeat the evil Killer Queen and her henchman Kashoggi.
Kashoggi played by Darren Day stole the show for me – playing the beautifully suited villain as an east end thug along the lines of Brick Top. Killer Queen was Brenda who was a semi finalist in an X Factor a couple of years ago.
But of course the real stars of the show are the songs. Great versions, suitably updated where necessary. Loud. Pounding. Over the top. Just like being at a Queen concert actually. In fact the whole musical is effectively a build up to a live version of Bo Rap sung by the whole cast. And it’s a great finale.
Just as Mamma Mia has enduring appeal because of the awesome track list – so We Will Rock You The Musical has similar longevity. I can see myself going to see this one again and looking forward to the day they make it into a film.