Stage: We Will Rock You
W HEN it opened the critics were far from impressed. While the Guardian complained that the premise "really is as sixth form as it sounds", the Mirror said that "Ben Elton should be shot for this risible story."
But since then more than 13 million people have seen We Will Rock You in 17 countries.
The original idea was to create a jukebox musical for Queen's hits, based on the life of the band's late frontman Freddie Mercury.
Robert De Niro's production company Tribeca became involved but lost interest when they found the idea unworkable.
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As did Queen guitarist Brian May.
"We weren't comfortable portraying Freddie in a musical," he says.
Enter Ben Elton and his futuristic comedy, where rock music has been officially suppressed by globalisation.
Says Elton: "It's the story of young kids battling the might of corporations who want to suppress their individuality and their love of music. They need a hero who can help them in their struggle, and we have two – the dreamer Galileo and the sassy rock chick Scaramouche."
Yes, the Guardian had a point.
And yet We Will Rock You overcame the critical panning to become a bona fide West End smash.
"We had the worst reviews in years, second only to Les Miserables," says May of the first run at Dominion Theatre.
"We had two very fortunate things happen soon after we opened. One was the party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002, where we appeared on top of the palace with the cast singing Bohemian Rhapsody and We Are The Champions.
"The other was appearing on Michael Parkinson's television chat show.
"People were able to see for themselves what was in the show."
Ex-Coronation Street star Kevin Kennedy, who has played the hippie librarian Pop in the West End for three years, joins the arena tour for a few shows, including Nottingham.
"We have a massive set and it's a great story, so this show really lends itself to an arena," says the star, who recalls two visits to Nottingham before he joined the Corrie cast as Curly Watts.
"I did two shows at the Theatre Royal there: No Sex Please We're British back in 1984 and I did panto about 2004 with (Nottingham's Coronation Street star) Chris Gascoyne. I loved it."
Although there is no Freddie Mercury character in the show, Galileo, played by MiG Ayesa, is a medium who talks to the Queen legend's spirit.
"I get all these psychic readings from rock'n'roll heroes from the past, especially Freddie," he says.
"Galileo longs for a world where people can express themselves as they did during the time of rock'n'roll.
"With the help of Scaramouche, he brings rock and roll back to the people. That's basically the story."
As absurd as the story is, its success is largely based on the soundtrack – 24 Queen hits packed into a two-hour show.
"You just can't beat the music of Queen," says Ayesa, who was born in the Philippines but grew up in Australia.
"I did a world tour with the show in 2007 but last week was the first time I'd been to Scandinavia.
"And this is a different scale of show. When you're singing all these mammoth rock anthems in arenas it feels like you are the rock'n'roll hero you've always dreamed of being."
Lauren Samuels, who plays "a very sarcastic kind of bitchy tomboy" Scaramouche agrees.
"At the end when it's We Will Rock You followed by We Are The Champions followed by Bohemian Rhapsody... you don't get much better than that," she says.
"You can see the audience with their arms in the air and the band are going wild. There's no feeling like it."
Samuels was a contestant on the BBC's Over The Rainbow talent contest, after which she played the lead role as Sandy in the West End production of Grease.
It was where she first saw We Will Rock You.
She says: "I remember thinking, I want to be in this show. At the end there was a standing ovation where people were waving their arms to We Are The Champions.
"I sat there in the audience and said 'I need to be in this show'."
For more about the show visit www.wewillrockyou.co.uk.
"With a soundtrack that's won over the audience even before they've bought their tickets, the show can't go wrong"
– Liverpool Daily Post
"It is simply a loud and colourful appreciation of the music created by a legendary band, not a critically acclaimed example of high art"
– London Theatreland
"You will find nothing bohemian, and precious little that's rhapsodic, here"
– The Guardian
"At points, 'We Will Rock You' gets so worked up about the cultural impact of 'X Factor' et al that you wonder if the audience might be sent out to bring back Simon Cowell's head on a plate"
– Time Out
"It may have a synopsis that could be written on the back of a guitar plectrum, but the storyline of We Will Rock You matters little when layered with the music, lighting and performances"
– Edinburgh Evening News
"They say they are going to rock you – and boy, they're not lying"
– Swindon Advertiser