“We Will Rock You,” the West End musical sensation by Ben Elton whose narrative weaves through the popular songs of Queen, thrilled a packed Opera House of over 1,500 people at its Israeli premiere on Wednesday night. Among those attending were a host of Israeli music VIPs, including Moshe Datz and Tzedi Tzarfati, who enjoyed a VIP cocktail party ahead of the performance.Although the show itself is pure escapism, its plot resonates eerily with the political situation in Israel and the wider world today, telling the sci-fi tale of how Bohemian rebels seek to restore freedom and rock music on a futuristic totalitarian planet (some 300 years from now) in which everyone conforms to the norms (including fashion) set by the all-powerful Global Soft corporation.“This story has the all the characteristics of dystopian fiction: government control, environmental destruction, technological control, survival, loss of individualism,” says director and choreographer Nick Winston. “The music is brilliant, but to create a memorable night at the theater, the story has to have just as much currency.”
Much of the production's cast were South Africa-born
The superb cast, many of whom hail from South Africa, feature Stuart Brown and Nicolette Fernandes as protagonists Galileo Figaro (“The Dreamer” who hears the lyrics of Queen’s songs in his sleep) and Scaramouche (the women’s lib anarchist Freddie Mercury based on a 16th century figure), who develop a romantic relationship. The head of Global Soft, Killer Queen played wonderfully by Londiwe Dhlomo, orders her police chief, Khashoggi (Craig Urbani), to crush the Bohemian rebellion before they can fulfill their mission of resurrecting Rock’s holy grail – Brian May’s guitar. As the drama unfolds, the cast peppers the witty dialogue – again based on Queen lyrics – with several references for the local audience, remembering Ofra Haza, asking questions like “What is Hava Nagila?” and even using the odd Hebrew phrase (such as “bilbulei tachat”).
The audience applauded loudly in appreciation, thrust up their right arms and sometimes sang along to the catchy lyrics of Queen’s hit songs, which ranged from “Radio Ga Ga,” “Bicycle Race,” “I Want to Break Free,” “Love of My Life” and “We Will Rock You,” climaxing in “We Are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”