We Will Rock You!, Duchess’s High School, Alnwick, Alnwick Playhouse.
THE Duchess’s Community High School’s annual musical rose above and beyond the call of the expectations of a traditional high school performance by bringing the music of Queen to life in the West End hit We Will Rock You!
The audience was transported 300 years into the future to Planet Mall where all culture is controlled by Globalsoft Corporation.
The story follows the young rebels Galileo Figaro (played by Kristian Thomassen) and Scaramouche (Caitlin Burrow), who are escaping the manufactured life that is given to them by the tyrannical dictator Killer Queen (Grace Bennett).
As the young rebels escape, they meet Britney Spears (Luke Bray) and Meat Loaf (Hannah Firth), who are part of the Bohemian race searching for The Dreamer.
They believe Galileo is their man as he hears ‘the fragments of the holy text’ in his head. But quick on their tail to stop them is Killer Queen’s right-hand man Khashoggi (played by the eccentric Barney Healy-Smith).
The story tells us how rock died and the Bohemians’ job is to bring it back to life with ‘sweet, sweet music’.
If you forgive the innuendoes and puns, littered throughout the play, this show has been a perfect fit for the talent throughout the school, with all-round, stunning performances from the whole cast.
Galileo as a character was a hard part to play, but his progression from the almost insane to a rock star was perfectly shown through Kristian’s advanced acting abilities – not to mention being able to hold together some of Queen’s most challenging songs.
Burrow did not fail to send shivers down my spine with her feisty singing voice, especially in the well-known love song Somebody to Love. Her harsh Geordie accent added to the condescending attitude, which you could tell Burrow enjoyed immensely.
Praise must be given to all the main cast especially Luke Bray and Hannah Firth, whose vibrant characteristics really brought their songs and acting to life.
Firth and Bray played the lust-filled rebel leaders with such energy and pizzazz, and were not fazed to show their love for each other onstage.
The emotional tearjerker No-one But You was aptly sung by Matthew Winter and Firth and really showed the complexity to their characters. They were able to lend high energy to their parts then bring themselves down to sing this harmonious song.
Grace Bennett took the role of Killer Queen into her own by making her soft and graceful singing voice contrast her fiery and devious stage performance.
David Patterson also gave a stunning performance as Pop, the insane librarian who was a pleasure to watch.
Finally, a great mention should go to Barney Healy-Smith, who stole the show with his top-notch performance as Khashoggi and had me laughing throughout the show.
The Duchess’s High School should be proud of this production. In a time when the entertainment industry seems to be taking a great dive, especially in rural areas, this production is a fantastic example of what community groups should be aiming for.
The chorus numbers were superbly sang and choreographed and, despite a few technical issues and one tuning issue, the musical truly rocked me.
There were a few problems with staging due to the massive 50-plus cast, but we can take from this that music is truly alive in the heart of Northumberland and I would challenge anyone to find similar talent anywhere else in the UK.
l Read Paul Larkin’s review on the Gazette website, www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk