Queen guitarist Brian May didn't think it would be appropriate to take part in a musical based on his band's history, despite how ready-made for the stage its flamboyant and tragic story may be. In fa

Queen guitarist Brian May didn't think it would be appropriate to take part in a musical based on his band's history, despite how ready-made for the stage its flamboyant and tragic story may be. In fact, May said yesterday (March 26) in London that he would have been "embarrassed" to see his band's story put to song. The less humiliating compromise was to transport Queen's music to a fictional "Planet Mall" for a piece of musical theater that writer Ben Elton described as the "'Matrix' meets the Arthurian legend meets 'Terminator 2'."

"We Will Rock You," due to open May 14 at the Dominion Theater is London's West End, is a $10.3 million production realized in conjunction with Robert De Niro's Tribeca Productions. De Niro revealed that he became interested in a Queen musical after meeting May and Queen drummer Roger Taylor at a screening at the 1996 Venice Film Festival. The typically soft-spoken De Niro didn't have much to say (when asked how this differs from his film production work, De Niro answered, "It's a musical"), but said a film is a possibility.

The show finds a cast of 60 living in a corporate culture known as the "Ga Ga World" (a name taken from Queen's "Radio Ga Ga"), where laser effects run rampant. Instruments have been banned, and teen pop bands reign supreme. To rectify the dire situation, a group of bohemians go in search of a man blessed with the ability to return live rock'n'roll to Planet Mall.

"I don't think it's the final chapter [in the Queen legacy]," May said. "It's the next chapter." The musical will feature a number of revamped Queen hits, including "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Are the Champions."

The musical was originally planned for Broadway, but with many of the principals based overseas, London was chosen as the opening site. Touring productions are also in the works.

"We Will Rock You" marks Elton's second foray into the stage after collaborating with Andrew Lloyd Webber for "The Beautiful Game." The musical is being directed by Christopher Renshaw, who received a Tony nomination in 1996 for his work on "The King and I."

The ABBA-themed "Mamma Mia!" became a hit last year based on a similar format, and, as previously reported, the Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp musical "Movin' Out" is scheduled to premiere June 25 at the Shubert Theatre in Chicago. The show is based on more than 25 Joel songs.

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