Mama, just killed a samurai! How Japan used Queen to liven up Romeo and Juliet

How do you give the star-cross’d lovers a lift? Drop them in 12th-century Japan and add a classic Queen album. As it opens in Britain, A Night at the Kabuki sends shivers down our writer’s spine

In April 1975, Queen toured Japan for the first time. It was six months before the release of the band’s album A Night at the Opera and they were met by rapturous fans, reportedly in their thousands, at Haneda airport in Tokyo. Their arrival is still celebrated with an annual “Queen Day” in Japan.

More than four decades later, the band – and that album, including their signature tune Bohemian Rhapsody – have inspired an eccentric and ambitious theatrical production, A Night at the Kabuki, which sets their rock sounds against Japanese history and Shakespearean tragedy. First staged in Japan in 2019, the show arrives at Sadler’s Wells in London this month.

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