Director &Musical Supervisor: John Maher
Reviewer: Paul Downham
50 years after The Beatles last performed on the Liverpool Empire stage the ‘Fab Four’ return to the city where it all began. Performing to a capacity crowd, it seems like they have never been away.
Let it Be isn’t a Juke Box Musical weaving the groups songs into a totally un related storyline as has been done with Mamma Mia and We Will Rock You to name two examples. This show is a pure tribute to the Beatles and their meteoric rise from their humble beginnings at Liverpool’s Cavern Club through the height of Beatlemania, to their later studio masterpieces. It could be considered to be the concert they never gave.
Performed by 5 members of a rotating company of 8, the opening night in Liverpool saw Emanuele Angeletti, Ben Cullingworth, Michael Gagliano, Paul Mannion and the 5th Beatle Michael Bramwell take to the stage.
Two large 1960’s TVs crowning the stage provide footage of the actual events being recreated below on the stage. The staging is a simple but an ever changing set by Tim McQuillen-Wright is littered with video projections from Duncan McLean and superbly lit by Humphrey McDermott.
It is only when you hear the 40 songs performed live during the evening you realise just how memorable the Beatles catalogue is. Not one song didn’t have somebody in the auditorium singing along. Highlights of the night included Elenor Rigby, The Long and Winding Road, Strawberry Fields and When I’m 64. Special mention should go to Paul Mannion for a stunning guitar solo during While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
The audience on many occasions during the night are invited to get on their feet to which everyone enthusiastically obliged, with the final quarter of the show playing to a virtually fully stood audience which made the show feel much more of a concert than a musical.
Despite all the iconic songs on show there really could have only been one track for the finale, Hey Jude. The audience almost drowned out the sound of the band on stage as word perfectly they sang along.
Let it Be is pure Beatles magic back on stage and the diverse age range within the theatre for this opening night demonstrates that their music is set to be loved for many a generation to come.
Runs until Sat 12th April 2014