We Will Rock You has already written itself into the musical theatre history books several times over.
Now the show, which is already a worldwide phenomenon from the UK to Canada, Australia, South Africa, Sinapore, Hong Kong, Russia and across Europe, is about to have its latest and most phenomenal life yet as it embarks on its biggest incarnation yet as a world arena tour.
The musical, written by Ben Elton to the immortal back catalogue of Queen, envisages a sinister future where the process of globalisation has been completed and rock music has been officially suppressed.
But now its story about the preservation of individuality and its expression through a classic rock soundtrack is itself heading out on another global conquest.
It originally premiered at London’s Dominion Theatre – one of the largest theatres in the West End, where it is the longest running show in its history – in 2002, where it is still running today in its 11th year and recently celebrated its 4,000th performance. Since then, over 15 million theatregoers in 17 countries have seen it. It’s a show that has defied the critics to prove, as always, that it is the public who make up their own minds, whatever the critics say.
“We had the worst reviews in years, second only to Les Miserables,” notes Brian May, founder member of Queen as its legendary guitarist, who with Roger Taylor continues to oversee the ongoing legacy of the band now, who despite the tragic early death of Freddie Mercury in 1991, have continued to make music, most recently at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.
“We had two very fortunate things happen soon after we opened: one was the party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, where we appeared on top of the palace with the cast singing Bohemian Rhapsody and We Are the Champions.
The other was appearing on Michael Parkinson’s television chat show. With those two bits of television, people were able to see for themselves what was in the show – and it became an avalanche, as people realised what was on offer.”
And word-of-mouth quickly grew to build the show into a smash hit. “The secret of the show’s success is very simple – it’s word of mouth, the strongest force known to man,” quips Brian. “No matter what mood people come in with, they come out laughing and smiling and punching the air so they can face the next day with a rock ’n’ roll attitude! It’s also a show with cross-generational appeal – from grandsons to grandfathers, it makes everyone happy!”