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Byline: Catherine Jones

IMAGINE a world where youngsters are fed a diet of computergenerated pop pap while real instruments are banned.

In this day and age of relentless TV talent shows and here-todaygone-tomorrow manufactured pop, it's really not all that difficult.

Ben Elton had just that thought a decade ago (pre-X Factor, pre-Britain's Got Talent and pre even Popstars The Rivals, where, somewhat ironically, Noel Sullivan, who plays Elton's stuttering messianic hero Galileo Figaro, made his name as a member of the manufactured Hear'say) when he took 24 of Queen's hits and turned them into We Will Rock You.

Elton's plot, set on a future Earth re-branded Planet Mall and ruled over by cyber-giant Globalsoft and its megalomaniac chief executive the Killer Queen, is supremely silly and yet knowing enough of its own silliness to be very enjoyable all the same as it knits together two dozen tracks with reams of rock babble, snatched song lyrics, cartoon karate kicks and nod-and-a-wink sauciness - along with the odd moment of groansome cheesiness. Really, though, it's all about the songs, and even those who aren't particular Queen fans can't deny the quality of those classic hits performed here with power (at times the sheer wall of sound makes your ears throb), energy and a distinct twinkle in the eye by the We Will Rock You cast and a pulsatingly good live band.

Sullivan has come a long way since the days of Pure and Simple, and has a substantial body of stage musical work behind him.

He's got a terrific set of lungs, a melodic voice and big range that certainly gets a work-out through Queen's iconic back catalogue.

Meanwhile, he's more than matched in the rock vocal stakes by Amanda Coutts as Scaramouche, who also gets some of the best lines as Galileo's feisty and cynical love interest.

In fact, there's no discernible weak link when it comes to the main vocal performances, with both soloists and ensemble thundering through tracks from Radio Ga Ga and Killer Queen to We Will Rock You and a sing-a-long We Are The Champions - via the brief respite of Meat's (Jenny Douglas) poignant Only the Good Die Young.

From nifty robotic dancing to the pulsating video screens and light show, it's quite a spectacle.

And as good inevitably triumphs over (camp) evil, cast and audience together attain a beatific Bohemian Rhapsody.

9/10 A kind of magic
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 9, 2011
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