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Sunday, 19 May, 2002, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
We Will Rock You: Your views
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro (left) has produced the musical
We Will Rock You is the latest musical to open in the West End, using the hit songs of rock band Queen to illustrate a futuristic tale written by Ben Elton.

Hollywood star Robert de Niro has produced the show. He came up with the idea more than six years ago when he met Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor at the Venice Film Festival.

"The problem is that Queen will always be bigger than any musical - especially one as ill-conceived as this one," wrote the BBC's Neil Smith.

"So Elton's attempts to subordinate their genius to his juvenile scribblings appear not just foolhardy, but downright arrogant," he added.

This debate is now closed. You can read a selection of your comments below.

Having read the tabloid critics reviews a couple of days before we went to see the show (Sat 18th) ,we were beginning to think that we had made a terrible mistake in booking tickets.

However, we thought the show was great. The cast, band and general production was "magic". Yes, the links between the storyline and the songs were somewhat contrived, but what do you expect in order to fit in so many of Queen's hits?

At times the tenuous links were in fact made a feature of the humour and I could almost hear Ben chuckling to himself. What a pity the critics took the storyline so seriously. If you want a truly ridiculous storyline just recall that musical where all the cast were dressed in hair and whiskers.....which I hasten to add did bore the pants off me.

We really enjoyed the humour of WWRY. So don't listen to the critics, the show is exhilirating - go and see it!!
Sylvia Harper, Gosport, UK

Why on earth did your reviewer assume that everyone went to see a biography of Queen? I certainly didn't! It's true that the plot of this musical is thin in the extreme, but did you ever go to see Starlight Express? Plot - what? We had a thoroughly good evening, listening to fabulous music played and sung to perfection. The show was funny, sometimes topical and a standing ovation concluded the performance. I'd go again.
Dave Clarke, UK

The music was superb and Freddie would have loved it!

Nige and Deb, England
OK, so this was never going to be an evening where your ability to follow a story was put to the test, but it was FUN with a capital F, capital U and a capital N!! The music was played and sung brilliantly, and more importantly, in most cases true to the original score. The actors were great and all had their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks (just as Freddie would have wanted!). Sod the critics (what is their purpose in life?), and go and see it!
Jenny Kendall, UK

I went to the Premiere of the musical and thoroughly enjoyed it. It seems that the press are missing the most important thing about Queen like they always have.....the humour. It was all tongue in cheek, the critics should realise this! Magnifico
Samantha Poolton, England

We saw the matinee performance on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed it. The music was superb and Freddie would have loved it!
Nige and Deb, England

Any true Queen fan will love it. Attended Premiere, superb, fantastic, don't know which show the press watched but it wasn't this one.
Marg Johnson, England

This was quite simply one of the worst shows I've seen in 20 years of theatregoing

Andy Miller, UK
I went to see it on Sat 18th May. We got last minute standing tickets at the back with a few friends, where we danced the night away! Yes, the plot was rubbish, but so what? I seem to remember some plots like "two freight trains falling in love", "disfigured monster living in a theatre", "flying cars" (incidentally there was an amusing reference to this one in WWRY). At least this show has kicking tunes that make you just ache to dance along to! Fan or not, this show must be seen.
Andrew McKinley, UK

Absolutely amazing! I went up to London to see the show last Saturday (18th May) and apart from two technical hitches, it couldn't have been better! The atmosphere was huge, both the cast and crew were great and it was £7.5 million well spent for sure. Good points about today's music were made, and it was great that they didn't try to copy Freddie but did it in their own way, it could have been easily spoilt but it was very well done and very funny. Their voices are amazing and the costumes are great, if not for the show, go to appreciate the music. It was wicked. I wanna go again! A massive MUST for the Queen fan, definitely.
Sally O'Connor, England

I was there on Tuesday night. Most of the people standing up and cheering were the Queen fans, who had been put in the front rows to make it look to the rest of the auditorium like someone was actually enjoying it. This was quite simply one of the worst shows I've seen in 20 years of theatregoing - the performances were OK, but the concept and book were a) ripped off and b) straightforwardly inept to the point of being an insult to the paying customer.

This is a show supposedly about the evil power of marketing (as noted by Neil Smith, Elton has obviously read No Logo), and yet it only exists because of the goodwill fans feel towards Queen, the Queen brand in fact (see many of the comments on this board. You all like Queen!)

Ben Elton jumped on the ecology bandwagon with Stark, film violence with Popcorn, football with The Beautiful Game and now anti-globalisation, twinned with - hey presto! - a musical idea ripped off from Mamma Mia. It worked for Abba, didn't it?
Andy Miller, London, UK

If you like Queen's music you'll probably enjoy this - a lot!

Colin, UK
Having been a lifelong Queen fan I was not disappointed when I saw WWRY. The cast was excellent and the humour was fantastic. The whole show was firmly tongue in cheek - as most of Queen's music was. Some of these so called professional reviewers need to lighten up and get a life!!!
Adam Standen, England

I was one of the unfortunate ones at the preview and felt obliged to stand and clap at that comic failure Nigel Planer. What a plum. Songs were great as we expect, execution was dire and staging uninspiring. Hopefully, the show will "bite the dust" at the end of its first run. Mr De Niro stick to making typecast cop movies with little or no humour.
James Aldrich, UK

Having seen the show on 10th May I have to say that I found the plotline almost non-existent.

However, in common with many musicals I don't think that the plot was the point of the show. There on stage was a collection of highly capable singers belting out Queen hit after Queen hit and at odd times Nigel Planer turned up with a joke.

The audience seemed to have a great time and so did I! In short if you like Queen's music you'll probably enjoy this - a lot!
Colin, London, UK

I am a fan who went to see the show. No fan expected it to be about Freddie - he was too big an idol to represent in a musical. It is a very clever piece of work on the part of Ben Elton and the way that the songs were interwoven and phrases from Queen songs and others from history were incorporated (not shoehorned) was just pure genius.

Everyone at the show enjoyed themselves. The singing was fantastic and interpretation of the songs was great. There were four curtain calls before the cast finally left. The audience would have stayed for more!!! Maybe someone with an objective view should see the show instead of pre-judging by the way it is described and the phrases used. Things are not always what they appear to be!

Just an aside - Roger Taylor, Brian May and Ben Elton were in the house on the night and also got a standing ovation and cheers of appreciation from the audience!

I will be going to see the show again - it's the only show I've ever wanted to see again!!! Lighten up Neil.
Cher Wass, UK

OK, the story line is a bit far-fetched, but aren't most sci-fi projects?

Tim Cooke, UK
The BBC critic needs glasses to see properly!!!!!!
Anon, Ireland

I too saw a preview performance and thought it was superb. Let's be honest, did anyone really expect anything else from the critics - they've never been too kind to Queen in the past so why start now ? OK, I admit I'm a huge fan, and I will be honest and say the storyline isn't the strongest. But take it for what it's meant to be - a fun night out. No one can be disappointed with the overall show. Music, actors and band are stunning. And yes, I too will be going again.
James Fant, UK

My wife and I went to see the show on 10th May and thought it was absolutely fantastic. Both of our hands were stinging after the show from clapping so much!

I am a major Queen fan whereas my wife is just a casual listener and couldn't really say that she liked Queen. After the show she told me that she thought it was the best musical she had seen in London (and we've seen quite a few) and she now sees Queen in a new light.

Let's not forget Ben Elton as well who provided a great script which encouraged us to go out the next day and buy some of his books (which we read as well).
Mark Walpole, UK

Funny, brilliant, a kind of magic and must be seen at least three times

Rez, UK
I too was at the première and it was pure Queen comedy rock at its greatest. I feel a bit of hypocrisy shown by the BBC - first it slags them off then it promotes them on Parkinson... We Will Rock You is a must.
Martin Loy, England

I was at the première on Tuesday and thought the whole show was brilliant from start to finish. The live band, the stunning visuals, and a truly remarkable cast gave this show the credit it deserves. The critics really should get there heads from up their backsides.

OK, the story line is a bit far-fetched, but aren't most sci-fi projects? It's pure escapism for a few hours, along with the best rock music ever written.
Tim Cooke, Britain

So, the press don't like the show - that has to be the best reason for going to see it. As usual, the press haven't got a clue. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and it well deserved the 10-minute standing ovation at the end.

If you want to see a show like My Fair Lady then get your shawl and your walking stick out and don't forget to draw your pension out first. This is the future of musicals. The cast and band are awesome.
Chris Jenkins, UK

You will, you will, love it. Buddies, you have to see it especially if you're not a Queen fan. Funny, brilliant, a kind of magic and must be seen at least three times.
Rez, UK

I'm in two minds as to whether it was as good as I expected. The cast were excellent and the graphics superb. I love brown love. Maybe I'll see it again.
Edward Crowther, Preston, England

We all thought the plotline was a bit dire (well, very dire to tell the truth!), but the sets, songs, casting and acting were brilliant

Darren Knight, UK
I, along with a party of around 60 others (all of us regular theatre-goers), went to see one of the preview shows on 30 April (which incidentally got a standing ovation). We all thought it was fantastic and I certainly expected the critics to agree - I'd say just ignore them and go and judge the show for yourselves. I'll certainly be going to see it again.
Julie, UK

Neil Smith wrote: "It becomes apparent this is less of a tribute to Mercury than a shameless ploy to cash in on his legacy." Not once has it been advertised as a biog of the group or Freddie Mercury, although on one of the interviews on the BBC web pages it does say that that was the original idea. As someone who regularly goes to see musicals, and saw Cats the night before WWRY, I don't think many people will be disappointed in a storming show, which has had a standing ovation almost every night. We will definitely be going to see it again. Maybe Neil Smith was upset that he had to go to WWRY premiere and not the Star Wars Premiere.
Donna Taylor, UK

I saw WWRY at the last preview on 13 May with my boss and a colleague. We all thought the plotline was a bit dire (well, very dire to tell the truth!), but the sets, songs, casting and acting were brilliant. I especially liked the use of computer graphics in the staging.

I get to see a lot of West End shows due to my job, and while WWRY isn't another Mamma Mia, I have to say that I enjoyed it and would be happy to go again!
Darren Knight, UK

The whole show is very tongue in cheek which is how Queen approached a lot of their work

Marcus, UK
We Will Rock You's a fun show! It's not perfect, it's not a life-changing philosophical event, but it's great music, wonderfully sung, the characters are interesting and funny, the plot isn't wonderful but it works well enough! The show if anything, over-idolises Queen, which is no surprise, but fans will love it. The band deserve special mention too, they're superb!

What were the critics expecting? Do any critics actually LIKE musical theatre? It certainly doesn't seem so...
Belle, England

I went to see it last night - it's absolutely fantastic. It's entertainment at its best - forget the flimsy story line and enjoy the performances, the music and the sets. I was blown away!
Annie Brooks, UK

Very good show. Story good and singing very good.
Greta Faulkner, London

Its all a bit sad, really. Ben has clearly watched the Matrix, seen and listened to Pop Idol, read No Logo and combined it with conservative musical sensibilities - "oooh all music is manufactured you know - girl bands, boy bands - and we're all at the whim of a globalsoft corporation" (actual name). Oh and I distinctly remember that Queen famously never included either of the words "e-mail" or "internet" in any of their songs (except maybe the little heard b-side: "trite unnecessarily bad metaphor"). Well, they do now. Cheers Ben. But if in doubt, stick in a rude gag. And he does. They're all rubbish.
Chris Fallon, UK

It seems these critics wouldn't know entertainment if it if it jumped out and bit them!!

Marcus Eayres, UK
I don't know which of these so-called journalists seem to think that Queen fans were expecting a biography of the band for this musical. Anyone who follows Queen in any way, shape or form would have known from the outset that this musical was not going to be about the band.

So NO, I do not think any Queen fans will be disappointed by the show. The music is sensational, the singers are superb, the script is very funny. The whole show is very tongue in cheek which is how Queen approached a lot of their work. I think that the arrogant thing is that the likes of the BBC's Neil Smith seem to think they know better that Brian May and Roger Taylor how their music should be performed.

Both Brian and Roger are perfectionists and I am sure that if they thought for one second that Ben Elton's script was not up to the job or not suitable they would have said so from the outset and certainly would not have spent so much of their time helping and supervising the show.

Neil Smith should remember that Mr May and Taylor actually wrote the music that was being performed and surely they would know much better than he how it should be performed.
Marcus, UK

I was one of the lucky ones that was there at the Premiere on Tuesday night and have been a Queen fan for over 20 years and I find it incredible that the BBC is even discussing whether Queen fans think this could be a let down. Were these so called journalists actually there at the Premiere? Didn't they see the reaction from the audience? Didn't they see all the Queen fans joining in, cheering, clapping and singing along thoroughly enjoying the whole experience?

The show is superb!! The music is amazing, the performers are outstanding with outstanding voices!! (And please bear in mind that even the top stars of music had to change the keys of these songs at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert). The sets were magnificent. The whole show was pure entertainment that ROCKED!! Surely the 10-15 minute standing ovation told the critics what people there that night thought! I enjoyed the show so much that I am actually going to see it again next week.

It seems these critics wouldn't know entertainment if it if it jumped out and bit them!! We Will Rock You really ROCKS!!! And I am sure that Freddie would have loved it too!!
Marcus Eayres, UK

Fantastic show. Computer generated effects were brilliant. Cast quite brilliant. I can't wait to see it again.
Sandie, England

I went to one of the previews of the show and really enjoyed it. I think if people are going with expectations of a deep meaningful plot, lots of strong characterisations and a strong moral challenging story, they will be disappointed. But if the evening is approached as pure escapism, which was one of the endearing features of Queen's music ("disposable pop" as Freddie Mercury once described it), then there's a good night to be had.
Tennant, UK

I saw the last preview of the show on 13 May and I, and the rest of the audience to judge by their reaction, thought it was fantastic. It had good British humour, amazing visuals, and fantastic singing. Neil Smith's review is typical of the high-minded critics who fail to appreciate ordinary people's tastes.
John Macinnes, London, UK

I was in London for four months and saw a musical every week at least and this was by far and away the best. I was not a Queen fan when I bought the tickets, but by the end of the show I definitely was. The cast is incredible, I especially love Tony Vincent.

I ended up seeing it twice and think that if you love fun musicals like The Full Monty or Mamma Mia then this is a must see, but I think that everyone can at least enjoy the music. The only thing that upsets me now is that I cannot go see it whenever I want.
Chrissy Costantino, USA

It is a real show in all its splendour, sensational! It was really funny, excellent special effects and as for the cast - absolutely wonderful - geat singers and actors. Though I must admit that before I saw the show I was sceptical about how the singers would be able to do the Queen songs justice.

Even the world's most famous singers were not able to match Freddie. However,after the show I was convinced that even Freddie would have loved it! I was really shocked by the criticism I read about the musical, those people really don't know what they are talking about, they must have just wanted to stand out with their stupid comments. I can't wait to see the show again!!!
Olga, UK

Having attended the show last Saturday evening (25/5), I must say what a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all. I AM biased as a Queen fan but my wife who has grown to dislike Queen over the past 20 years had to admit she had a great time and enjoyed the show more than any others she has seen.

The cast performances are of the highest calibre and as per other performances, standing ovations and curtain calls were the order of the day. I would recommend to anybody who is looking to have a good night out.
Dave Kilroy, England

I have walked out of many a West End musical but WWRY was brilliant. Would go again.....the Cast an absolute joy to see and hear - made your heart ZING.
Anon, England

I saw the show on Saturday 18th May in the afternoon. Apart from the 50 mins of technical breakdown, and no sign on BoRap - it was great. The set was excellent and the actors were fab. If Queen are so against boy bands, why did they team up with Five two years ago?
Edward Tedven, UK

It's trite, cheesy and ill-conceived. Ben Elton is trying to cash in on the stories of his famous mates.

And doesn't all this publicity just fuel the tiresome rubbish that the Brits are perpetually going on about. It's just one bit of rubbish after another. The important values have disappeared and the moguls are continually exploiting this for their pockets.

Eventually, this will flop leaving all and sundry with debts to fulfil and oh, and you won't see Robert De Niro upon these shores again.

Get back to basics Ben Elton, and start writing some real comedy based on social observations where profit is equal to loss.
B Linnger, Sweden

Hey, suprise suprise, I'm another one that disagrees with the critics! I went to see WWRY on the 18th and thought it was brilliant. Yes, the storyline was unbelievably cheesy, and some of the one-liners were totally cringe worthy, but it was all completely tongue in cheek and all in all a very good show.

Well done to the cast especially for the songs and the visuals, which were mostly note perfect, especially "No One But You" which was sung with so much passion there wasn't a dry eye amongst us. I'm definitely going again!
David Wilson, UK

A group of ten of us went down to the Saturday night preview. By half time we were all talking about seeing it again. I was amazed at the critics' reviews. The show was entertaining, vibrant and spectacular. The singing was superb. Of course it was familiar, the music was Queen. Ben Elton summed it up on Parkinson, when he said "It is not to be taken seriously, it's fun". Go and see it, don't listen to the critics, they are not in tune with the rest of the population of this country - unlike Queen's music.
Julian Millington, England

The critics are WRONG. This show is a treat. Great fun and humour with brilliant singing.
Debra Fox, UK

See also:

15 May 02 | Entertainment
08 May 02 | Entertainment
14 May 02 | Entertainment
26 Mar 02 | Entertainment
08 Mar 01 | Entertainment
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