Director: John Maher
Let it Beat the Mayflower Southampton highlights that nearly 50 years after the demise of The Beatles their music is still as popular today as it ever was. This production takes the audience on a Magical Mystery Tour through the era of the Fab Four, and although this show has more of a concert feel to it the audience show their delight with 40 songs all packed in and performed in quick succession. The company have clearly all been chosen for their ability to sound and perform like the original group. Reuven Gershon; John Lennon throws in a few Lennon-esque moments with his facial expressions and movements, James Fox as Paul has a super voice and his rendition of ‘Yesterday’ is extremely similar to the original and his mannerisms are spot on, although Beatles efficionados will need to overlook that he is right handed. At this performance Ben Cullingworth played Ringo and demonstrated why Ringo is an excellent drummer. John Brosnan appeared as George and his exceptional guitar skills highlight Harrison’s ability as a musician; a real joy to watch. In addition to the Fab Four, Graham Harvey adopted the rôle of a fifth Beatle and accompanied on keyboards many of the more orchestral pieces, ‘In My Life’ being a fine example.
The set added to the overall effect with the use of different backdrops to signify the eras. As the Beatles began their career we see theLet It Becrew in Liverpool’s Cavern Club and as they begin their meteoric rise to fame the audience watch as they move from films to stadiums and into psychedelia and their alter egos. Accompanied with adverts from the period, along with short narratives from the cast to introduce the different stages and to allow for costume changes, the production moves relatively smoothly throughout.
The production provides much attention to detail. Gershon and Fox take it in turns to play the piano; songs such as ‘Blackbird’ are played as an acoustic piece and the acoustic section is a definite highlight, a particular stand out number is ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ which is nothing short of brilliant. Simply by looking at the costumes the audience are give an accurate representation era and place. As the set design moves in to the Abbey Road period, a nice touch is that Fox is correctly portrayed as being in bare feet.
Another pleasing touch is the fact the set list does not consist purely of Beatles singles. There are a number of album tracks included that show off the instrumental and vocal abilities of all members andmake for a different and interesting show and once the audience, consisting of people of all ages, were encouraged to get to their feet the whole place rocked, not a single person remained in their seat and everyone was singing, clapping and waving along. This production, although not a traditional theatre show or jukebox musical per se, is also more than just a tribute act.
For just over two hours you are transported into a Beatles concert and it is clear to see why the music will continue to live on.Let It Beis a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s entertainment whether or not you are a Beatles fan as there truly is something for everybody and it is hard not to get swept up in the enthusiasm of the audience. Nobody appeared to want the show to end, the cries for more and the cheers continued for many minutes afterwards the show finished, this says it all. Catch it if you can.
Tour photo ¦ Runs until Saturday 17 May then continues on tour