Described by some as one of the most influential bands of all time, and adored by a legion of fans, the musical Let it Be is set some high expectations. Let it Be is a tribute performance to The Beatles, and includes some of their most famous songs. The first production of Let it Be opened on the West End in 2012 to positive reviews, with the success sparking both a UK and European tour. The current tour is taking the Beatles’ music across the country. The production at the Opera House in Manchester runs for a week from 29th February to 5th March.
The production is an inventive combination of a theatre show, musical and gig, mixing the three elements to maximise audience engagement and enjoyment. The production stretches over seven key eras in The Beatles’ musical careers, and includes different scenery and outfits for each time period.
The scene is first set in a faux Cavern Club with early rock n roll songs taken from Please Please Me, The Beatles debut album, including an excellent rendition of I Saw her Standing There. The scene then moves through The Beatles breaking into the American music scene with a performance of fan favourite She Loves You on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965. The performance then takes a more colourful turn, with the cast donning full Sgt Pepper outfits for performances of With a Little Help from my Friends and When I’m Sixty-Four. The production’s penultimate theme is “Peace and Love”, finishing with an Abbey Road scene, complete with a shoeless Paul McCartney.
The songs were all performed excellently by the cast. Two solo performances by Paul McCartney (Emanuelle Angeletti) of Yesterday and Blackbird could have been mistaken for the original recordings. John Lennon (Reuven Gershon) had a rocky start, with his early performance of Twist and Shout missing several high notes. However he redeemed himself after the interval, coming back strong with Strawberry Fields Forever (and he also looks remarkably like Lennon).
While the songs were, on the whole, performed well by the cast, the production was made much more interesting by the continued crowd engagement with the production. During the songs, the cast encouraged the audience to sing and dance along, and in the pauses the cast joked with the audience. This turned the production from what could have been just a set list of songs into an interactive and engaging evening. Let it Be is highly recommended for fans of The Beatles looking for a night of 60s rocking and reminiscing, but high theatre prices may put off students who only have a passing interest.