Belfast Telegraph

Queen legend Brian May joins Belfast school musical

By Claire McNeilly

When a Northern Ireland teacher emailed Brian May for help with the school’s upcoming musical it was more in hope than expectation.

After all, surely the multi-millionaire Queen guitarist would have better things to do with his time than assist a bunch of schoolkids on Belfast's Glen Road?

Then, to head of drama Paul Laverty’s astonishment, the legendary axeman replied.

So when the pupils of St Mary’s Grammar take to the boards for their production of Return to the Forbidden Planet tomorrow and Friday night, it will be to the accompaniment of a five-part video specially made by rocker May for the school.

“I thought it would be great to have a big-name star doing the narration for the musical but I honestly didn’t think we would actually get one,” said Paul.

“I remembered that Brian had done something similar for a touring version of Forbidden Planet a few years back and thought that he might still have the video, so I sent him an email just before Christmas. I couldn’t believe it when, a couple of days later, I opened my inbox and saw the name Brian May there.”

The 64-year-old Surrey-based guitarist explained that he no longer had the original DVD — but that he would find the time to record a new one especially for the school. And, two weeks ago — much to the delight of the young cast — it arrived.

“I can't thank Brian enough,” said Paul, who is directing the production.

“It’s not every day you can boast of having one of the world’s biggest rock stars as part of your school musical.

“It goes without saying that having him involved is the icing on the cake for us.”

The musical features early rock and roll classics such as Wipeout and Great Balls of Fire, and has a cast of 30 pupils.

It also features, a 12ft-high door made of wood and steel, one of the biggest aperture doors ever used in a school production.

Tickets can be purchased by phoning the school on 9029 4000

story so far

Return to the Forbidden Planet is a jukebox musical based on Shakespeare's The Tempest and the 1950s cult science fiction film Forbidden Planet, which starred Lesley Nielsen.

As well as spacemen and women, a robot and a monster, there is a part for a narrator on pre-recorded video which was played in the original production by Magnus Pyke, and in later versions by noted astronomer and TV personality Sir Patrick Moore as well as Brian May.

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