Published: 06:00, 06 January 2020
Queen’s back catalogue is clearly standing the test of time. With film fans still humming Bohemian Rhapsody after the movie’s smash hit success last year, what better way to follow it up than with a tour of the Queen and Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You?
The show comes to the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, and later the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, as part of its 2020 tour.
Since 2002, more than 15 million theatregoers in 17 countries have seen it. Set in a distant, dystopian future where Earth is called Planet Mall and its inhabitants wear the same clothes, think the same thoughts and exist in a brain-dead haze. This system forbids musical instruments and composers, while rock music is all but unknown. The musical tells the story of Galileo, Scaramouche, Killer Queen and the other ‘Bohemians’.
Queen fans new and old are invited to join them on their journey to discover the Holy Grail of Rock and restore the free exchange of thought, fashion and most importantly, live music.
Ben says of writing the script: “This was not pop music, but rock music. Some of the most famous rock ever written, and legendary music should have a legendary context. I began to think of legends, both new and old, from King Arthur to The Terminator; heroic myths in which brave individuals take on the vast monolithic force of evil systems.”
Queen legends, Brian May and Roger Taylor, admit they had initial reservations about a musical using Queen's music.
“We were not initially convinced, not being fans of the ‘Musical Theatre’ genre on the whole,” said Brian. “The show needed to work in a theatrical context and retain the rock, whilst also incorporating the spectacle, uniqueness and humour embodied by Queen.”
Roger added: “We (Queen) took the music seriously, but we never took ourselves seriously. We always had the ability to laugh at ourselves. Some of the stage gear and even some of the music is quite humorous. The whole middle section of Bohemian Rhapsody was - we did a lot of daft things and a lot of experimentation.” Brian added:“If we were going to go into this arena, the challenge was that we would somehow try and make it our own.”
Roger describes the resulting show as “silly, but funny and making quite a lot of serious points while it goes on its rather daft course” which he says was intended “to keep it a bit gritty and make sure it’s not a typical show”.
It’s also an opportunity to discover Queen's music for younger generations. Brian said: “I had this very strange thought that it’s quite possible that this particular musical might be the thing through which people know our music in 300 years’ time.”
“I’m quite shocked at how fresh this stuff still sounds and it makes me very happy, obviously."
We Will Rock You is at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre from Monday, February 24 to Saturday, February 29. Book at marlowetheatre.com or call 01227 787787. It is also at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley from Monday, June 1 to Saturday, June 6. Book at churchilltheatre.co.uk
More by this authorAngela Cole