Director &Musical Supervisor: John Maher
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
In avoiding the usual pitfalls of the jukebox musical i.e. shoe-horning the greatest hits of a band around an unnecessary narrative, Let It Be emerges triumphant as the perfect example of how to give your audience exactly what it wants.
The producers have clearly acknowledged that it’s the music that is key. And it’s this simplicity of vision that is its greatest strength. Why tamper with some of the most iconic tunes ever produced by arguably the world’s greatest band? Billed as a ‘theatrical concert’ it is precisely that; a whistle-stop but finely detailed and evocative recreation of The Beatles live, complete with era-by-era costume and scene changes.
It charts the evolution of the Beatles sound from their dimly lit Cavern Club beginnings to their final days, and with 40 songs over two and a half hours there’s certainly a lot of bang for your buck. As the years roll back the irresistible pull of the music takes hold of the enthusiastic audience, who, in true concert fashion, stay on their feet throughout.
The greatest strength of the whole endeavor though is the supremely talented cast (chosen from a company of eight each evening) and their ability to recreate almost perfectly the original Beatles sound. And oh, what a sound they make, the quality of both the playing and the singing is excellent throughout. On opening night here in Glasgow it’s down to James Fox (Paul), Ben Cullingworth (Ringo), Michael Gagliano (John), Paul Mannion (George) and in support on keyboard Steve Geere to be the Fab Four. It seems churlish to single anyone out in such a hugely talented group of musicians but Fox particularly shines, in possession of a show-stopping voice he also faithfully recreates the wide-eyed look that McCartney is well-known for (so good is he that we’ll even forgive the fact that he’s a right-hander) and captures McCartney’s vocal inflection perfectly. Gagliano too, skilfully recreates Lennon’s little quirks as well as his sound and Mannion and Cullingworth’s superb musicianship just shines throughout.
The prevailing tone is upbeat with a rip-roaring wall of sound but there’s a nice contrast in an acoustic section in the second half which allows some of the Beatles more thoughtful and introverted work to be showcased.
This is a sheer joy from start to finish and leaves not only the people in the cheap sheets clapping but everyone: man, woman and child, whooping, hollering and rattling anything they can to show their appreciation for these wonderful musicians and this joyous celebration of the band that changed the face of music forever. Do yourself a favour and get along to see it if you can.
Runs until Sat 5 May then touring