Classic Queen Album Transformed Into Japanese Kabuki Re-Telling of 'Romeo and Juliet'

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Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Brian May and John Deacon of Queen pose for an Electra Records publicity still to promote their tour of Japan in 1975.

Late Queen singer Freddie Mercury loved a spectacle, so it stands to reason that he would have given a thumbs up to a new experimental Japanese production that uses his band's classic 1975 album A Night At The Opera as inspiration. The play, Q: A Night At The Kabuki, is being mounted in Tokyo, Osaka and Kitakyushu, Japan, by writer/director Hideki Noda of the indpendent NODA*MAP theater company. 

The play will open on Oct. 8 and, according to a press release announcing the project,Noda began working on two years ago, "out of the desire to explore and bring the dramatic world of A Night at the Opera, which includes Bohemian Rhapsody, to life on stage in a theatrical setting." With the permission and support of the band, the production will feature all the songs from the album, which contains such classics as "I'm In Love With My Car," "You're My Best Friend," "Love of My Life" and, of course, "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Sony Music Publishing Inc. in Japan originated the idea for the theatrical adaptation of the LP in an effort to explore and expand on the "worldview presented in the album as a whole," then pitching the concept to Queen. "We are thrilled and honoured that legendary playwright and director Hideki Noda has chosen to expand on the theatrical aspect of Queen’s album A Night at The Opera and actually make it into a real live play," says Queen guitarist Brian May in a statement. "How wonderful to be a part of Japanese culture after all these years with what promises to be a new chapter in theatre history in this first year of the new Reiwa era.”

Inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, (spoiler alert) instead of the star-crossed lovers finding a tragic end, Noda wondered what if they made it after all, but in medieval Japan? "In fact, two 'Romeo’s' and two 'Juliet’s' will appear in Q telling both the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet with the story of Romeo and Juliet that lived on."

According to the NME, in a statement, Noda added, "Even though I was only half-convinced, I set about half-naked and sweating all over doing numerous workshops trying to put into words the inspiration I got from ‘A Night At The Opera.' I then conveyed my ideas to that someone close to the band, and what do you know! I received a reply from Queen saying it was OK to go forward with the play."


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