Musical Director: Michael Bramwell
Director: Michael Gyngell
Reviewer: Dan English
The Fab Four continue to ply their trade as the songs and careers of The Beatles are delved into within the touring production of Let It Be.
Chronicling Liverpool’s most famous export’s journey into trans-Atlantic stardom, this jukebox tribute follows the astronomical rise of Paul, Ringo, John and George as they took the musical world by storm, via a very well-known recording studio in Abbey Road, beginning with their Royal Variety appearance in 1963.
It is an atmospheric start, with four mock-up tv screens placed in the four corners of the stage arch playing a selection of tv adverts from the 60s to throw us back to the time just before Beatlesmania, coupled with a selection of hits from the era to prepare us for the colour and rock and roll that is to come. These screens later provide some amusement during set changes, playing out some of the 60s’ most unusual advertising campaigns.
Emanuele Angeletti, John Brosnan, Ben Cullingworth and Michael Gagliano are the Fab Four, staring as Paul, George, Ringo and John respectively, and who have the unenviable task of capturing The Beatles’ trailblazing sound across more than 40 of the quartet’s most iconic hits, including delving into the eclectic mix of the Four’s solo careers, during a chaotic second half. This is a refreshed version of the original production, with new songs added and old favourites removed, and there certainly feels a tonal shift with more emphasis placed on the members’ later work.
It is hard not to be swept away by the same euphoria that The Beatles were met with when they burst onto the scene in this touring production. The colour costumes and bright lighting designs quickly place you in the centre of the band’s fame and pay close attention to the band’s original attire during this concert-like performance.
One scene, focusing on the hysteria of the Shea Stadium concert at the height of Beatlesmania in 1965, attempts to immerse the audience in the deafening cries of eager American fans. Yet, unfortunately, the combination of the screams and the music, which compete against each other, almost assaults rather than delights listeners. The use of live projections, however, projecting the on-stage performers into scenic backdrops, is a nice touch, and cements the superstar status of the band.
But it’s perhaps that which ultimately hinders and confuses this production as to what it really is. Let It Beis blessed with four phenomenal musicians, but the relaxed attitude towards audience members taking photos, and the real lack of any plot apart from a timeline pushes this production more into the territory of a finely tuned tribute concert.
That said, it is without doubt that this is a strong homage paying tribute to one of the finest bands ever seen. The energy and enthusiasm on display is unbeatable, guaranteed to entertain the Beatles fans new and old.
Continues in Dartford until 20 October, then touring. | Image: Contributed