The first arena tour of the hit Queen musical, We Will Rock You, arrives in Sheffield next week with Kevin Kennedy and Brenda Edwards from the West End cast.
The actor who played Curly Watts in Coronation Street will reprise the role of Pop, a librarian who is stuck in his ‘hippie’ past and is searching to find answers to the end of rock music.
His co-star who shot to fame on The X Factor , will again play the domineering role of Killer Queen, head of Globalsoft, the corporationwhich bans all instruments and musical originality.
It’s a larger-than-life part that suits her down to the ground, except for one thing. “When I’m up on stage it’s very hard for me to stand still and stop myself from tapping my feet or rocking my head because she’s supposed to be someone who doesn’t like music,” she says.
According to Edwards there are a few differences between the theatrical and arena productions of the show written and directed by Ben Elton, a futuristic comedy woven around more than 24 of Queen’s biggest hit songs and aimed at emulating the scale and spectacle that marked the band’s live performances.
“Either way it’s different every night. In the West End it attracts a lot of passing trade from all over the world, “ she continues. “Some don’t know the language but know all the songs, others get all the Ben Elton humour. We require the audience to get involved and make as much noise as they can. If they want to get up and dance, that’s fine
“In an arena, it’s a big thrill playing to a big audience, seeing and hearing all the people, that’s the best buzz there is.
“I’ve done The X Factor so I know how to work an arena,” she declares. “I’ve toured to the Sheffield Arena and now I’m back, baby!”
It’s remarkable how life has changed for the one-time gospel singer. “Before X-Factor I didn’t do much singing in public, apart from in church and karaoke in pubs,” she admits.
“Since I did X Factor I haven’t stopped.”
That was in 2005 when as the last surviving woman she left the audience and judges spellbound week after week until she lost in the semi final by 23 votes. Soon after she made her first West End appearance as Mama Morton in Chicago - the Musical and was the lead in Human Comedy, a more intimate Broadway musical at the Young Vic. She has sung solo on both sides of the Altantic at places ranging from the Royal Festival Hall to Ronnie Scott’s.
“Singing to me is like eating - it’s what keeps me going,”
One of her two sons, Jamal, founded online music channel SB.TV. “Ah, yes, my baby,” she exclaims. “He also has a record label which released my single. We are the same - we just want to keep live music going. “
We Will Rock You is at the Motorpoint Arena Sheffield from next Thursday to Sunday.