Warning: Spoilers! (well, this is how that preview went at least...)
WHAT A SHOW! WOW!!!!
*breathes* ok... where to start? the beginning, I guess.. The show opens with Innuendo introduction booming through the theatre, and words being projected onto the painted curtain- it's the Queen logo, old and water-stained, and run like all the prosc arch is. The titles are information on the birth, life and projected death of rock music- Elvis, The Beatles, Manufactured bands, Hear'Say formed, Hear'sy disbanded... then in the futute, minimum age to apply for a liscence to write music is 21. Globalisation and manufactured, cyber-artists are the only music by the time 2302 is reached.
Opening scene- Pop the old Hippy is a librarian, and he's researching- trying to find "The Day the Music Died" But just as he's reading, the Police discover him, and he's taken to be interrogated then shipped to the Seven Seas of Rhye.
Scene shifts to the Gaga kids' school, big chorus number with everyone dressed in white and plastic- fun designing those costumes! "Radio Gaga" has slightly altered lyrics tht work perfectly in the context- Radio gaga, video googoo, internet gaga. The chorus dance with an infinite number of identical animated androids mirroring their routine on the screens behind them. The school breaks up for the summer vacation, the Gaga kids clear out, and Galileo Figaro enters, dressed in dark clothes and a leather jacket. He tells his teacher how he gets srange words and sounds in his dreams, he doesn't understand them but can't stop them! Galileo sings "I want to break Free" then the teacher returns with police- Galileo is arrested for his rebellious creativity.
Then a small, bedraggled girl in black comes in, followed by 5 pastel-dressed Gaga girls, teasing her for her lack of "style", how will any of the boys from the Boy Zone ever fancy her? She sings "Somebody to love" and wow, what a voice.. the Gaga girls back her up with a dance that could be from Saturday night Fever, or Grease... She's then arrested for her rebellious ways.
Killer Queen makes the most amazing entrance- through a suknen platform in the stage onto a revolving oval table, with an army of yes-thing executives backing her. The whole staging is amazing- they make great use of 8 enormous, hideously expensive LCD screens that fly (well, except that one lost half its cables and swung precariously over the supposedly unconscious cast...) The whole set is magnificent, very technical, spectacular, and many people have said it's exactly a Queen gig in a theatre! But back to the plot...
Galileo and the girl meet after they've been operated on, and Galileo names her Scaramouche. It can't be said that they instantly fall in love, but each sees a fellow rebel spirit in the other, and they decide to be friends.
They run away, and are found by Meat and Brit, two of the Bohemians. At first the Bohemians thin the kids are spies on the Bohemian community, as their names are from the sacred fragments- the only way Galileo could know the name Scaramouche was if he'd read it! But Galileo convinced him that it was from his dreams, and Brit sees that this boy is the one- the Dreamer- the saviour who would free the world from the Globalsoft corporate tyrrany!!! Meat and Scaramouche were equally sceptical about this, but Brit takes them to the Bohemian's secret underground Hidaway- The "Heartbreak Hotel" which has a strange logo on the wall, a red circle with a bar across it with the words "TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD" on it. The Bohemians explain to Galileo about their lives- they're the rebellion, scavengers, the underlife, hunting for any clues as to how the world became what it now is. They keep the sacred fragments, and take their names from them- Meat is short for Meat Loaf- rather incongrous for a pretty girl who looks more like a Rocky Horror fan, Bob the Builder, Cliff is the boy George look-a-like, Prince is a big macho guy, and Brit- Brit is the meanest, the baddest, the strongest- Britney Spears. (the whole show, every mention of his name got a giggle!) Meat sends Scaramouche off to try on some of their rebellious, cool clothes, while they tell Galileo the fate of these names- and the story of.. PElvis. How he died young... how so many of them died young, including Freddy. He was too beautiful, too talented to stay, and as she sang "Only The Good die Young" so beautifully, it moved the audience to tears.
Then, the police broke in- somehow they'd finally found the Heartbreak Hotel and stormed in to arrest the trouble-makers. A big fight followed, and Brit gave his life so that Galileo and Scaramouche could escape. Everyone else was captured and to "The Seven Seas of Rhye" The two remaining rebels retired to a deserted van, and settling down for the night, asked "Who wants to live forever?" But then, of course, when you got a guy and a girl, spending the night together, things, well, happen...
From the moment the shambling figure of Nigel Planer (Neil the Hippy, now about 60 but in same clothes) came onstage, until the final bar of Queen's version of the National Anthem serenaded 2,061 of us out onto the street, we were hooked! The place was PACKED with mostly old Queen fans, I'd guess - people in their mid-40's - and quite a few younger nuts as well.
Music - it's pure Queen. The band came onstage to take a bow. Got a huge roar. Awesome. Brilliantly arranged and performed, singers are young, pretty, and great.
Set - excellent, especially once they fix the huge video screen that, instead of descending smoothly from the flies to show a brief clip of Queen at Wembly, swung wildly down on one cable... with apparently comatose cast of Bohemians frozen below it... we had a second interval of 15 minutes, and Ben Elton announced the bum-cleavage backstage was most impressive as the stagehands were doing their best to get it working.... in the end, 'Pop' (Nigel Planer) improvised, referring to 'an ancient form of recording known as a Mini-Disk' and we had the sound track... but that was enough!
The plot is good - not fast and furious, but there's just so much to pack in! As always, Ben Elton has gripping, unsettling, uncomfortably close to reality ideas that are funny but scary, because they could so easily come true... he dates the death of live music from '2001 - Hearsay is manufactured'!!!
Ex-Cats in the cast
Luke Baxter- OLC Carbucketty, Mungojerry (sic) and Mistoffolees
Nick Crossley- Bill Bailey and Mungojerrie
Alistair David- understudy Mistoffeles (sic)
Lucie Fentum- Etcetera, Bombalurina, Demeter and Jemima
Richard Roe- Carbuckety/ Mungojerry and Skimblesthanks (sic!!!)
StExers in the cast
Giorgia Barberi- First cast Wrench, cover Volta and Joule
Lucie Fentum- Last london Ashley
Amy field- Last London Buffy
Chris Lennon- London Electra 1995
Anna Woodside- understudy Pearl and Dinah, last cast london