Review: WE WILL ROCK YOU at Oslo Spektrum

Limited run in Oslo's largest arena.

JO STRØMGREN KOMPANI Brings The Truth About Dance to Den Norske Opera

JO STRØMGREN KOMPANI Brings The Truth About Dance to Den Norske OperaThe multi-million pound jukebox musical, which has been both delighting and irritating audiences for twenty years, has had a short run at the Oslo Spektrum arena in a dynamic new version. While the text, by Ben Elton, is still as mediorcre as ever, smart direction, cool stage design, lavish costumes and last but not least stand out performances do their best to cover up the pretentious futuristic plot, and make it more of a spectacle arena concert.

Apparently, the birth of this show was in 1996 in Venice after a meeting between Hollywood actor Robert De Niro with Queen musicians Brian May and Roger Taylor. De Niro and his daughter - both fans of Queen - asked if the iconic band had ever thought about producing a musical based around their songs. This was the seed of the idea that eventually led to the creation of We Will Rock You by Ben Elton (of Blackadder fame). Elton's book for the Queen jukebox musical was panned and ridiculed by critics when the show first opened at The Dominion Theatre in 2002, something I totally agree with. However, despite the negative reception given to We Will Rock You by the critics, the audiences absolutely loved the music (and some even loved the drama) and came to see it in their droves.

We Will Rock You was last seen in Oslo in 2011 at Folketeatret, which was a replica of the European tour version, so not as grand as the London production. Brian May even played the guitar solo during "Who Wants to Live Forever" on stage. I think he would have preferred to do the solo in this new version of the show in full packed arena.

JO STRØMGREN KOMPANI Brings The Truth About Dance to Den Norske Opera

It is no understatement to say the ladies stole the show last night. Alexandra Rotan was well cast as Scaramouche, and her performance was spectacular. She also acted honestly with great diction. The second stand out was Charlotte Brænna as Oz. What a voice! She really got to show her amazing range this time around. Brava! Kirsti Lucena, best known from last years season of "The Voice" did a great, campy, over-the-top performance as Killer Queen, and I was pleased that she really experimented with the range, and not just doing it as it was originally written.

Ben Adams (of A1 fame) as Galileo was a little uneven during the show, especially during act one, but got to shine during the ballads in act two. I would have hoped for better acting, but the script doesn't really help performers in that department. Rein Alexander as Khashoggi was good, especially when he didn't use the classical voice and , as this role is more suited for a pop/rock voice. He also delivered the text in an overly dramatical tone, which poked a little fun of ridiculousness in the lines he was given. Petter Vermli as Brit(ney Spears) was solid, and had great chemistry with Bræanna's Oz. His high voice is just as solid.

Last but not least Åge Sten Nilsen as Pop was fun, and he did a sort of double duty as both his character and also as an emcee of the whole show, often breaking the fourth wall and having fun with the audience. He even sang the opening number which usually is done with Freddie Mercury on playback. Yes! And he thankfully did most of Bohemian Rhapsody as the encore (which some audience members didn't get to see as they rushed out during the bows so they wouldn't have to stand in line to get out).

I was really impressed by Simen Gloppen's direction of this show. He managed to make sense of many of the shows flaws, and really emphasize that this show lives first and foremost in the strength of Queen's music, and he and chorographer Sara Einbu has really created something pleasing to see on stage. Cårejånni Enderud's costumes also made this look more amazing than it ever has before, taking the sci-fi elements to a new level, even taking inspiration from H.R. Giger's designs for the Alien movies. Director Simen Gloppen has also done the stage design for this version, and has utilized the entire arena, including the sides and even in the back of the auditorium. Three LED screens in the front is all that is needed to enhance the theatrical aspects of this production.

Musical director/guitarist Torbjørn Alsos Raae leads a 4 piece band, and they really manage to nail Queen's music as it was written, and that is no easy task to replicate. The ensemble all sound amazing doing Freddy Mercury's difficult harmonies. It actually sounds so great I'm inclined to think that at least a good portion of this is pre-recorded. I hope I am wrong.

All in all, We Will Rock You in this incarnation is a must for Queen fans everywhere. Every song sounds fresh and is always welcome between Elton's cringe worthy dialogue. Thankfully there is mainly music in this piece.

All photos by Tovita Bråthen Razzi

JO STRØMGREN KOMPANI Brings The Truth About Dance to Den Norske Opera

JO STRØMGREN KOMPANI Brings The Truth About Dance to Den Norske Opera


JO STRØMGREN KOMPANI Brings The Truth About Dance to Den Norske Opera

There are three categories of people; those who love dance, those who hate dance and those who do not care at all. Common to all is that they have completely misunderstood what dance is. Maybe the reason is that the dance does not even understand itself? If you are curious about the answers, there is only one thing to do – see the performance The Truth about Dance.

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From This Author - Christian Ranke

Christian Ranke is a writer, singer, actor and graphic designer. He has translated several musicals, such as EVITA (Rice/Lloyd Webber), THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (Dempsey/Rowe), PETER PAN – A MUSI... (read more about this author)


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