Interview with Ben Elton about the return of We Will Rock You

Posted on 7 December 2022

We Will Rock You is set to return to the London stage in 2023. The smash-hit musical featuring songs from the legendary rock group Queen will return for a 12-week season next summer at the London Coliseum. Written by Queen and Ben Elton, the show, which is set in a dystopian future, has been seen by over 20 million people across 28 countries. We caught up with Ben Elton, who enthused: “We need to be back in London and we’re going to be back in London!”.

We Will Rock You originally opened at the Dominion Theatre in 2002 and ran until 2014, becoming one of the longest-running musicals in West End history. “It will be 21 years. We opened on the 14th of May in 2002. I know that very well because it’s my wedding anniversary day and for twelve years my wife had to accept that the most important thing was We Will Rock You. We’ll be opening in early June, so almost on our 21st birthday.” Ben told us.

Featuring 24 of Queen’s best-loved hits including ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Radio Ga Ga’ and ‘We Are The Champions’, We Will Rock You follows a group of Bohemians, desperate to restore free thought in a future world where everyone acts and dresses the same. Since the conception of the musical, modern society has radically changed, most significantly due to the introduction of smartphones - we ask Ben if this has enforced changes to be made to the script for its return to the stage in 2023:

“It [the script] has subtly morphed for a very long time; society has changed fundamentally and almost beyond imagination. There’s been a revolution, I think, even greater than the original industrial revolution with the dawn of the internet, the whole nature of being human has changed.” Ben continues: “I take some pride in the fact that We Will Rock You started as a dystopian vision of the future and within a few years became current affairs.”

Ben tells us: “The whole thing about We Will Rock You was a world where the kids, and people, were consuming music directly from a single computerised source directly to handheld sets, devices.”

“Three years after we opened the iPod was invented and then three years after that the iPhone happened.” Ben explains: “We did a little re-write of ‘Radio Ga Ga’ and ‘Everything we need to get we download from the internet, all we need is internet ga, ga’ and that was in 2002. We haven’t changed the basic satire because the basic satire remains that whilst

there’s a lot of great entertainment that comes from your Spotify and your Apple music, more and more people are watching rock and hip hop through their phones when really, they should be putting their phones down and getting into live music. In that respect, it still remains very current even though the technology we predicted actually occurred considerably quicker than we thought.”

With the huge success of the 2018 biographical movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, a whole new audience has been introduced to the music of Queen. “I think the success of the film Bohemian Rhapsody took even Queen by surprise and they always know they’re thinking big. It was such a great film and such a lovely tribute to a truly great artist and human being and a really great group. Of course, Queen were big in 2002 when we first did ‘Rock You, but the truth is, Queen weren’t as big then as they are now. They seem to get bigger and bigger.”

Book tickets for We Will Rock You today!

We Will Rock is set to thrill audiences once again for a limited 12-week run from 2 June 2023. If you want to catch this incredible show in its London run, you can book tickets through London Theatre Direct now!