Sunday, October 2

We Will Rock You – Brindley Theatre

At last, the near two-year wait is over, as amateur musical groups can return once more to the place they belong – in their local theatres, doing what they do best – entertaining.

“Codys Productions”, a youth company of cast members aged between 11-18 years old, produced by Nick Cupit since its conception in 1996, are firm favourites at the Brindley theatre having played their last remarkable show there-“Battle of the Boat” in March 2020, just as the pandemic hit the nation, and so were welcomed with open arms for this show that depicts the story of a gang of youths who fight to regain the world that was once normal – quite ironic and very fitting – and bring back music to the world , the world 300 years from now when the post-apocalyptic world is controlled by Globalsoft and known as Planet Mall.

Although this opening night was met with only a half-filled theatre, those that were there, waited in eager anticipation to watch the return of a very talented, enthusiastic and resourceful group of young people, who through months of mask-wearing rehearsals, had diligently persevered and persisted against all odds, to play on their opening night.

And so, to the show. The stage was set with the iconic sculpture of Freddie Mercury and stage lighting that welcomed us in a dramatic and exuberant way – spinning search lights across the auditorium, that announced, ‘we’re here’ and as the young stars paraded the stage, confident and content, the audience could feel that they were.  With opening numbers of “Radio Gaga” and “I Want to Break Free”, the hit musical based on the music of Queen, written by Ben Elton, that has played across the world and for over 12 years in the London Dominion Theatre, tells the story of how Planet Mall is controlled by a sinister corporate world, led by the  ‘Killer Queen’ who strives to ensure that live music is forbidden and that all music is computer generated. The Killer Queen was not prepared however, for the young vigilantes, who through visions and dreams, would rebel against this oppression and in finding the Rock’s Holy Grail- Bran May’s guitar- bring their dreams to life of reviving live music once more.   

The gang, who consisted of the two rebels -the tortured soul of  Galileo (played with natural panache and superb stage presence by the talented Toby Holmes) and the disgruntled Scaramouche (played by the very talented and gifted Olivia Hebden) and their pals – the engaging Buddy (a great performance by Daniel Willson), the fervent Brit (acted superbly by Issac Hartell) and Oz (the shop-stopper of the show, India Poulard) fought the baddies- Killer Queen (Isobel Green) and Khoshoggi (Ewan Schooler) who played their parts with both ‘ boo-hissing’ villainy and passion, transported us to their land, where rock and roll was a distant memory.  The hit after hit songs by Queen – “Under Pressure”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” and more, assisted by imaginative costumes and meticulous choreography (great work from Natasha Bill) gave opportunities for the wide talents of all of the cast members to shine, and with the audience clapping and singing along to the non-stop hits, the show went from strength to strength. 

At previous Codys shows, the cast had performed with a live orchestra, this was missed tonight but was replaced by backing tracks that were brought to life under the creative hands of the musical director Laura Wilson, who made a valiant job of integrating a variety of Queen hits into the show, giving all members the opportunity to sing thrashy rock songs, ballads and dance numbers with professional ease. There was strong direction by Jake Liken, who filled the stage with enthusiasm, kept the music flowing seamlessly, the plot engaging and the moments of comedy delightful.    

The show was such fun and gave way to new and original members to Codys, who all shone and owned the stage. For some it was a welcome home, for others a new beginning (some nerves did show) but it was a performance that for everyone was met with equal exuberance. As, throughout the story the passion for live music overcame all austerity, so this return to live theatre was embraced.  The show had humour, songs that made everyone want to sing or clap along, a happy ending (who doesn’t love that!) and with the fight against evil, the desire to make the world a better place and reignite music – it was a great show to bring us all back to the theatre. It takes us on a journey through iconic songs, a blossoming romance, nostalgia and fun – come along and see for yourself!

The show runs Wednesday 9th – Saturday 12th March 2022 7.30pm. Full price £19.00 Concessions £17.00.  

Reviewer: Jan Mellor 

Reviewed: 9th March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★