We Will Rock You young@part

Date 28th October 2021
Society Stage One Youth Theatre Group
Venue New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
Type of Production Musical
Director Jacqui Ivemy
Musical Director Adam Blosse
Choreographer Helen Wallis


Author: Mark Donalds

“We Will Rock You young@part” has been adapted for youth theatre from the West End hit “We Will Rock You”, based around the music of rock group Queen, with book by Ben Elton. The rather contrived plot, set in a computer-controlled dystopian future where music is banned, is as thin as tissue paper and clearly flags up each Queen hit well before it starts. But who cares when you’ve got such fabulous music to listen to! Audiences quite rightly ignored the critics’ damning reviews to make this show a big hit.

This is Stage One’s first visit to the New Theatre Royal in many years and it sounds like they had many hurdles to overcome, not least Covid, which necessitated a two year rehearsal period. All credit to the creative team for keeping their cast interested and committed for that length of time. Your hard work has paid great dividends.

Harry Fitzgerald and Hope Hillier-Smith gave us two very strong and likeable leads as Galileo and Scaramouche. Both with very powerful, melodic singing voices, well able to cope with any difficulties the numbers threw their way, and great stage presence. Hope showed impeccable comic timing, making the most of her disparaging remarks to Galileo.

The show generously shares out its solo numbers among the characters, making it ideal for a youth group with many budding stars. We were able to appreciate the great talents this group has been nurturing with Edward Richardson as the endearing Buddy, Ben Phillips as the ebullient Brit, Ava Griggs as the evil Killer Queen, Bethan Lodder as Oz and Jack Edwards as Michael. Special mention must be made of Ben Irish as Khashoggi, Killer Queen’s evil henchman. He took this baddie role by the scruff of the neck and really owned it, giving a great performance.

The principals were well supported by what appeared to be a cast of thousands, filling the stage with their energetic singing and well executed choreography. Everyone on stage seemingly having the time of their lives, the whole cast working together as one. Great credit must go to Director Jacqui Ivemy and Choreographer Helen Wallis for using every inch of the stage and giving us so many great images to remember.

A simple but perfect set, topped by a huge screen showing the most fantastic graphics, allowed the stage to be used to the max. Cleverly designed and effective lighting created the atmosphere in each scene, together with some fantastic costumes – Bethany Baker must have had a daunting task with such a large cast, but they all looked great!

One or two glitches, hopefully down to it being the first night in a new venue, marred my enjoyment a little. Some of the scene changes were rather protracted, especially in Act 2. Also, as happens all too often with a band featuring many electronic instruments, the sound balance was not right and the band was in danger of completely overwhelming the singers, especially when they were all playing, or underscoring dialogue. That being said, the quality of the music was excellent, and the sound balance seemed a lot better in Act 2.

It’s easy to dismiss “We Will Rock You” as ‘just another jukebox musical’ with a rather daft storyline. But the wonderful music of Queen and the outstanding performances of this talented young group made this a very entertaining and memorable evening. Well done everyone involved!