Let It Be - Show of The Month
Let it Be returns to the West End for the third time, but what is it about this exhilarating theatrical concert that makes it such a runaway hit?
On 9 July 2014, the smash-hit Beatles jukebox musical Let it Be returns to London’s West End for a very limited 11-week run at the Garrick Theatre. The show premiered at the Prince of Wales Theatre back in September 2012 and then went on to the Savoy Theatre is January 2013, but what is it that keeps audiences returning again and again? Is it the legendary songs by The Beatles? Is it the rock ’n’ roll concert atmosphere? Or is it the promise of the chance to relive your youth of the 60s, and 70s?
Let’s start with the music. Let It Be contains nearly all of The Beatles’ greatest hits, spanning some 30 years of brilliant song-writing and iconic tunes. Starting with the early numbers from Liverpool’s Cavern Club that launched their careers, such as I Saw Her Standing There, Please Please Me and It Won't Be Long. Then from their famous appearance on the Royal Variety show, where they performed She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand and All My Loving.
Next, we are treated to the set that the band played on the Ed Sullivan show in the USA that included A Hard Day's Night, Can't Buy Me Love, Do You Want To Know A Secret, I Wanna Be Your Man and the hauntingly beautiful Yesterday. In 1965, The Beatles played a concert at Shea Stadium in New York City with a set list that included Help!, I Feel Fine, Ticket to Ride, Drive My Car, Twist And Shout and Day Tripper.
Then the production moves into a more eccentric world with their Edwardian-era military band concept of Sergeant Pepper. The songs here include: With A Little Help From My Friends, Eleanor Rigby, Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds, When I'm Sixty-Four and A Day In the Life.
After the interval, we are spoiled with songs from their psychedelic period of the 1970s such as: Magical Mystery Tour, All You Need Is Love and Strawberry Fields Forever. Then, finally, the production winds to a close with hits from The Beatles at Abbey Road Studios that include: Blackbird, Two of Us, Norwegian Wood, We Can Work It Out, Here Comes The Sun, The Long And Winding Road, Come Together, Let It Be and the now world-renowned anthem Hey Jude.
Just a glance at this song list would induce any Beatles fan to a gibbering wreck, but these songs are now part of our culture; everyone the world over knows the chorus to Hey Jude and thus this seems to be the big draw to Let It Be – the chance to experience these iconic songs performed live on stage.
Another factor affecting the show’s popularity could be the electrifying atmosphere that the cast and creative team have created in the auditorium. As the story of The Beatles’ rise to fame is played out through the sequence of songs, real news footage from the period is projected across the stage. These clips of hysterical fans at concerts and glimpses of John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney all help to contextualise the songs and remind the audience how Beatlemania spread across the globe throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
Projections are used again when the talented impersonators of the Liverpudlian quartet perform the songs. Dynamic animations and kaleidoscope images spin and whip across the screens and are specific for each number, from London of the swinging 60s to the hallucinogenic quality of the 70s.
Added to this multimedia display is a lighting rig and sound system to rival any major pop or rock concert. Lights flash or strobe in time to the music and sound is pumped out into the auditorium to give that sensory overload that one might expect at a live gig in Wembley Arena. Audience members are always on their feet by the third number and the usual quiet etiquette of a West End theatre is eschewed for a livelier atmosphere.
This exciting stage concert also seems to be a draw for those wanting to take a trip down memory lane and experience the soundtrack to their youth, and with songs like that, who can blame them!
Let It Be opens at the Garrick Theatre on 9 July 2014 and runs until 21 September 2014.