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Bohemian Rhapsody: The Music of Queen

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 15th May 2013 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge



Bohemian Rhapsody: The Music of Queen – Darlington Civic Theatre

The decision to present a tribute concert based around the hits of one of the greatest super-groups of all time, Queen, is an audacious one. After all, who can mesmerise an audience like Freddie Mercury could? And who can play an electric guitar like Brian May can?

So, would Bohemian Rhapsody: The Music of Queen enable Spirit Productions to proclaim that ‘We Are The Champions’? Or would it be a case of ‘Another One Bites The Dust’?

The result was something of a mixed affair. Undoubtedly, the Queen back catalogue of hits provides a veritable cornucopia of classic anthems to be performed and despite finding themselves ‘Under Pressure’ in the first act, wherein the band often drowned out the vocals, the cast valiantly adhered to the old adage that ‘The Show Must Go On’.

Things improved as time went on and there were some impressive vocal performances from Amy Diamond, Rebecca Kelly and Kelly Ann Gower. The heavy weight of responsibility of stepping into Freddie Mercury’s shoes fell upon the shoulders of Nathan James. Whilst credit must be given to James for giving it his best shot, I felt that he lacked ‘A Kind of Magic’ that Freddie had by the bucket-load.

As with their previous production, Dancing Queen, which was at the Civic around this time last year, it is with the production values that Spirit Productions really let themselves down. The costumes were more Rocky Horror than Rock Gods, with the female performers parading around in red and black leather corsets and basques while the males donned leather trousers and waistcoats. And the sight of Giovanni Spano performing ‘I Want to Break Free’ in fishnet tights and suspenders, looking more like Frank ‘n’ Furter than Freddie, was as cringe-worthy as it was preposterous.

Executive Producer and Director David King may have had in mind ‘One Vision’ when he produced this show. Unfortunately, it is not shared by me. However, in the interests of objectivity, I must point out that the audience on press night did seem to be enjoying themselves and there was a rapturous round of applause at curtain call.

Steve Burbridge.

Runs until Saturday 18 May 2013.

For tickets telephone 01325 486 555 or log on to





  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Steve. In my experience, to describe Spirit Productions as a bit 'hit and miss' would only be telling half the story - the generous half. I trust your judgment, as always - not having seen this particular show. Although I, too, was baffled at the reaction of the audience when I saw previous productions. If people go home happy they must be doing something right.
  • Steve Burbridge
    by Steve Burbridge 5 years ago
    Thanks, Cammy.
  • Cathy Nock
    by Cathy Nock 5 years ago
    Hi, Just to give balance this is my perspective. I was there at this show on opening night at Darlington Civic Theatre. The reviewer is correct when he states "I must point out that the audience on press night did seem to be enjoying themselves and there was a rapturous round of applause at curtain call." Can I also point out that there was also a spontaneous standing ovation. I understand that this has been the case at end of the subsequent shows.
    This is the first time I have been to a show like this and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am looking forward to catching another show when it moves to Manchester in a few weeks time.
    If anyone is expecting an impersonation of Freddie they will be disappointed ~ this is not an impersonation act but rather a Tribute and Celebration of Queen's music performed by six very talented vocalists. I found the whole show to be energetic and uplifting and I was very pleased that I was there. It is indeed an achievment when the vast majority of an audience go home happy.
  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Cathy. Good to hear your views and especially good to encourage your first contribution to these pages. Welcome to the Network! You should find balance aplenty throughout the site as we often review the larger tours more than once by different writers.
  • Helen Cooke
    by Helen Cooke 5 years ago
    I don't know if you are interested in my review, really as I saw it at the same theatre, different day but it differs to the reviewer's opinion above.

    Bohemian Rhapsody UK Tour - Seen Thursday 16th May 7:30pm Darlington Civic Theatre

    I made the trip from Yorkshire to Darlington believing that the task of taking on a stage show tribute to Queen is not for the faint hearted, but that if anyone can pull this off, Award Winning International Producer David King is the man to do it.

    ITV Superstar Finalist Nathan James heads the line up this year and he is joined by 5 more great vocalists. Amy Diamond, a finalist in BBC's Over the Rainbow proves her vocal prowess during the ballad 'Love Of My Life', Giovanni Spano has the crowd in hysterics as he parades around in stockings & suspenders for 'I Want To Break Free', the comedic routine does not take away from Spano's amazing vocals. Rebecca Kelly is the Red Haired Diva with the fiery voice to match, her gutsy rendition of 'Another One Bites The Dust' is an immediate audience favourite. Ben Smith gets the place rocking with 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' and also 'Bicycle Race' which he delivers brilliantly whilst undertaking some difficult choregoraphy, the hard working dancers must get a mention here too, this number was fantastic. Last but by no means least, seasoned West End performer Kelly-Anne Gower, recently having finished Les Mis performed the superb ballad 'No One But You' and partenered James as the Suprano voice in the vocally challenging 'Barcelona'.

    The Band Liam Holmes, Connor Williamson, Jonny Brister, Drew Lowe and Soufian Ma'Aoui were all supremely talented and worked hard to keep the theatre rocking.

    The final mention must go to Nathan James whose towering stage presence was only matched by his phenomenal vocal ability as he performed amongst others 'The Great Pretender', 'The Show Must Go On' and my personal favourite 'Too Much Love Will Kill You', the latter with such emotion that it brought a tear to many an eye in the audience.

    His performance showcased an amazing British talent that I am sure Freddie himself would have approved of.

    I can't quite believe I viewed this show on only the third day of the tour - it can only get better! - Highly Reccomended.
  • Steve Burbridge
    by Steve Burbridge 5 years ago
    Interesting review, Helen, who do you actually review for?
  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    This review is certainly generating a lot of interest, Steve!

    Helen, I really appreciate your viewpoint and love to encourage comments on these pages. However, I don't want to encourage all our members to post their own writing in full here on the Reviews Page.

    Theatre is an art form and reviews will always be subjective in nature. We will always have differing views on a single piece. In fact, our reviewers often cover the larger tours in different venues giving a full range of opinions on the production over time for the benefit of our readers who live in the regions covered.

    However, I must stand by Steve's review. Steve is an incredibly experienced writer and a qualified journalist. One of the most prolific contributors to these pages I trust every word he writes as measured, independent and without bias. In fact, you will find that ALL of our reviewers across the UK have extensive experience in journalism, theatrical production, theatrical performance or a heady combination of all three! So, you will understand the trust that I have in their ability to reliably inform our Readers.

    Please don't read this response as discouragement - more an opportunity for me to celebrate, in a public space, our incredibly talented writing team here at UK Theatre Network.

    If you are interested in contributing your reviews to UK Theatre as a Reviewer, I would be delighted to hear from you. Please email your CV to

    Cameron Lowe
    Editor, UK Theatre Network
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