Two of the surviving members of legendary rock band Queen have teamed with actor Robert De Niro to answer the venerable questions: Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
On May 14 at the Dominion Theatre in London, the futuristic new musical “We Will Rock You” will bring the music of Queen to the stage, producers Brian May and Roger Taylor – the former guitarist and drummer for Queen, respectively – and De Niro announced in a press conference Tuesday (March 26).
Rather than tell the story of Queen, which came to an end when singer Freddie Mercury died of complications from AIDS in 1991, “We Will Rock You” will be a science fiction fantasy about a world overtaken by globalization, where everyone listens to the same computerized music and instruments are banned.
“Queen’s music is uniquely theatrical,” the musical’s author, Ben Elton, said at the press conference. “I had this vision where ‘The Matrix’ meets the Arthurian legend meets ‘Terminator 2.’ ”
Elton, a former British comedian who penned the musical “The Beautiful Game” with Andrew Lloyd Webber, came onto the Queen project only recently, after the producers spent several years toying with ideas.
The seeds for “We Will Rock You,” which will feature such Queen hits as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” were sown in 1996 at the Venice Film Festival, where May and Taylor met De Niro after a series of short Queen films screened before the actor’s flick “Sleepers.”
“That’s how long things take,” De Niro told reporters. “I think it is going to be terrific.”
“We Will Rock You,” which the producers plan to stage at a later point in North America, Australia, Scandinavia, Italy and Japan, is a $10.7 million production, mostly due to the 37-member company and extravagant special effects.
After all, it takes big dough to stage “Thunderbolt and lightning/ Very, very frightening.”