Photos: Queen's May & Taylor Rock Fifth BirthdayDate: 15 May 2007
Five years to the day after it premiered to scathing reviews, Queen musical We Will Rock You celebrated its milestone birthday at the West End’s Dominion Theatre in rapturous – if not rhapsodic - style.
Comedian and pub landlord Al Murray made a special guest appearance in the musical, lending rebel Bohemians Galileo (Peter Johansson) and Scaramouche (Jenna Lee James) his Harley for their race to Wembley near the end of Act Two, much to the delight of the audience. But there were many more surprises to come in an extended curtain call.
Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor accompanied the cast, on electric guitar and drums respectively, in the usual encore of “Bohemian Rhapsody” as well as an additional special performance of the “Show Must Go On” before finally bowing out to the strains of a rock version of “God Save the Queen”.
In between jamming sessions, they addressed the crowd and also pulled onto the stage We Will Rock You’s book writer and director Ben Elton. A jubilant May reminded the audience that they were there to celebrate five years and “five goes like this” he shouted, waving two fingers of victory, while behind him Taylor gestured with just a single middle finger, aimed clearly at the critics who slated the show, some of whom were in the audience.
Elton noted that a lot can happen in five years but that, what had been happening over five years at the Dominion, remained unchanged. “For almost 2,000 performances, we’ve had a standing ovation every night and it’s down to this wonderful company,” he said. It was no “secret” that, when the show opened, the press wasn’t exactly “kind” and that was fine – critics were entitled to their opinions but so, said Elton, were audiences. “While we’re not into defying critics, we are into delighting people.” We Will Rock You opened on 14 May 2002 and, despite the critical reception, went on to win five of that year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, including Best New Musical.
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For our Photos coverage, Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for last night’s curtain call at the Dominion Theatre along with Brian May, Roger Taylor, Ben Elton, Al Murray and members of the company. In addition to Johansson and James, the current cast features Maz Murray (as Killer Queen), Alex Bourne (Khashoggi), Rachel Wooding (Meat), Colin Charles (Britney) and Jeff Shankley (Pop).
Set in the future, We Will Rock You tells the story of a world in which globalisation has meant the death of real music in favour of computer-produced cyber stars, a status quo which the rebel Bohemians, harking back to the Golden Age of rock (embodied by Queen), are trying to overthrow so that they can write and perform their own music. An unintentional hero ends up saving the kids of Planet Mall from the tyrannical Killer Queen and discovers the place of living rock.
We Will Rock You has a book by Elton and features 32 of Queen’s greatest hits including "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Under Pressure", "Radio Gaga" and, of course, "We Will Rock You". It’s directed by Elton, choreographed by Arlene Phillips and designed by Mark Fisher and Willie Williams.
- by Terri Paddock