Credit: Chronicle Live
Few shows make a successful transition from theatre to arena setting.
We Will Rock You is a definite exception – it seems made for the arena.
I’ve seen it twice in theatres and recently caught it in Copenhagen as it embarked on its inaugural arena world tour.
Verdict? It’s perfect for the arena. After all, think of all those famous Queen stadium and arena shows. You will, indeed, go Gaga over this when it plays the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle from June 7 to 9.
Many of the cast have made their names in the theatrical West End or touring version of the shows, and some more familiar ones will be taking part in the UK leg of the tour too.
I went backstage at the show in Copenhagen to chat to some of the cast.
Lauren Samuels - Scaramouche
“Scaramouche is one of the rebel Bohemians in the show, she wants to break free from the robotic Gaga kids and find music again.
“She meets Galileo who is similar to her and they go off on this journey in search of music and another world, really.
“They find this big gang of Bohemians who are just like them, and together they embark on this huge journey to get rid of the Killer Queen and bring back music again.
“I’ve never been to Newcastle before. You might hate me for saying this, but I am obsessed with Geordie Shore, the TV show. I’m so looking forward to going, it looks such a fun place and the audience is going to be a great crack there.
“It’s pretty incredible playing arenas. I’ve never done arenas before but, I mean, who says they don’t want to play arenas!? Here we are filling venues holding 5,000-plus every night.
“I played Scaramouche in the West End before the international tour, and I’ve never done a tour before either, I’ve always done West End, so living out of a suitcase and travelling around is something completely new to me.
“I have to say it’s a lot harder than doing it ‘in town’ when you’ve got all your home comforts.
“It’s a difficult one, travelling from venue to venue, doing a week here and a week there, it’s a hard slog.
“But the audiences have been insane. It’s Queen, everybody loves Queen and when you come to an arena and watch it, effectively we are Queen to these people.”
MiG Ayesa - Galileo
“He’s this kid who gets psychic readings from the past. The story is set 300 years in the future where rock and roll and free expression is forbidden, yet Galileo refuses to live in a world like that.
”He gets all these psychic readings - most of them seem to be coming from Freddie Mercury.
“He also speaks a lot in song lyrics and song titles and longs for a world where he can be free.
“With the help of the Bohemians, he gets to crush Killer Queen and bring music back to the people.”
MiG too has played the role in the West End. “The scale of the places we are playing makes it such a grander event. We’re probably going to go on record as the loudest musical to ever tour the world.
“This is playing arena rock, concert level volume. I feel like we are at Wembley, singing We Are The Champions, We Will Rock You, it’s massive compared to doing the show in a theatre.
“That wall of people, sea of faces, arms and hands, I’m very lucky to be able to do that every day.
“Queen never did anything by halves - their concerts from Wembley to Rio were amazing, the crowds would go ballistic, and you get a sense of that dong the arena shows.
“It’s a contagious thing, when people see the crowd starting to react they get swept along and it affects the cast too, it just explodes.”
“I was a fan of Queen before I took up the role. I’m now a Queen fanatic.”
Sean Kingsley - Commander Khashoggi
”This one I really did for mum as she introduced me to Queen when I was about seven or eight years old. She would play the albums, wake us up in the mornings to Sheer Heart Attack and those huge numbers, that’s when I became a Queen fan.
”Unfortunately, she passed away last year so I am doing this for her, as she would have loved to have seen me doing this, and she would have been jumping up and down to all these songs she knew so well.
“There was no way I was going to turn this one down as she would have been so excited to see me up there and singing great Freddie songs. Seven Seas of Rhye was Queen’s first number one, and I get to do a tip of the hat to Freddie with some of his stage moves in there as well, it’s a dream for a rock singer like me. Brian May was in my audition, he is very much part of the casting process.
“Even if I didn’t get the job, just to be able to stand in front of Brian May and get to sing one of his songs and have him say that was brilliant, I’d have been happy with that.
“My character Khashoggi is, for want of a better description, the henchman of Killer Queen. He does all the nasty work, the torturing, the murders. Think old school James Bond villain. I’ve certainly got the costume, I’m just missing the white cat and secret underground monorail!”
Rolan Bell - Britney Spears
“I come by the name of Britney simply because the rebel gang of which I am a part of have named themselves after famous pop stars, rock stars, musicians of the time we are in now. They haven’t any records as to say whether they are male or female. My character is a macho, manly sort of guy who sees himself as leader within the rebel group who is going to find the chosen one who will lead us back into a time of true music. He’s like the Morpheus character form the Matrix. He’s a very fun character to play and he does see himself as an action hero in a way.”
Lucie Jones - Meat Loaf
“It’s my first ever world arena tour, did you know!
She’s great, she’s really streetwise, sexy and rough which is so different to anything I’ve done before. It’s a real challenge to be doing her, which I enjoy.
“In 2009 I did The X Factor and came eighth. I spent a year in Les Mis as Cosette and spent some time writing some stuff to be released, which is on hold at the moment because of this.
“My dad brought me up listening to Queen, so I know all the songs.
“When I finish with the tour there’s an album to potentially go straight away. Depends on what I decide to do, I’m really enjoying the tour. It’s difficult to travel and it’s hard work physically on your voice, but I’m getting used to it.”
Brenda Edwards - Killer Queen
”Queen are made for the arenas. The thing with We Will Rock You is it’s more a rock show than a musical. A lot of musicals do arena tours and they don’t always translate well, but this one definitely does as the music is made for an arena. That’s where Queen lived, pretty much.
“It’s really nice to be able to get out and do some big shows like this with it and it is an amazing show.
“This cast is very fresh, it keeps it very fresh, it’s nice to be able to get some dates on this tour as well.
“I’m also Killer Queen in the West End show at the moment and I also have my very first album out! It’s called Bring It Back and will be on sale at the Newcastle shows.