By Josie Howie
Let It Be is a tribute-act meets musical which walks, or rather dances, us through The Beatles’ history! The cast consists of only 5 members (the 4 Beatles and an extra member to play ‘the bits they don’t have enough hands for’) so don’t expect a huge chorus of backing singers, but expect what you might imagine a rock ‘n’ roll gig in the Cavern Club to have sounded like!
Much like The Beatles’ career, the show kicked off with a mellow yet enjoyable start, with a recreation of the band’s first ever gig. There wasn’t a huge reaction from the crowd, but everyone seemed to enjoy some of the most famous hits from the Beatles’ beginnings, such as She Loves You and Yesterday.
The first act then continued by showing us the ‘album-by-album’, ‘era-by-era’ history of the band, from their US live debut at Washington Coliseum, through to the Sgt. Pepper era.
There is no denying the musical talent of any of the cast, and their ability to covey the individual personalities of each band member was particularly impressive. This was especially evident as, there is very little spoken dialogue throughout the show, other than to prompt the audience to get involved – which they were more than willing to!
The final act is dubbed ‘the reunion that never happened’ – a unifying of the band for one last show after their split to pursue solo careers. This act showcased the most well-known numbers and, after a slightly underwhelming start, the audience quickly warmed up and everyone was on their feet grooving along. Some of my favourite songs included Lennon’s Imagine, as well as Hey Jude, but all the songs were fantastically executed and convincing, and perhaps even portrayed a little of what the original 4 wanted to shout about.
The stage design is nothing major, but I particularly enjoyed the use of large screens either side of the stage, making it look like 60’s TV sets. These screens displayed the live action from the stage as it happened, but were also used to show retro adverts and historical news coverage from the Vietnam War during the recital of Imagine. This was an effective touch, which could definitely been replicated throughout the show, as though the show was not confusing – in that it was fairly chronological – it could have benefited from the inclusion of more history throughout. In my opinion, the screens could have been used more to display the political history and context around the songs, tying the show together more and giving the audience a deeper sense of The Beatles’ journey.
All in all, I would class Let it Be as a jazzed-up extended tribute gig, rather than a musical. Its no “Mamma Mia!” but it makes for a lovely evening of nostalgia and well executed Beatles’ hits for those of us born in the wrong generation. And, if you’re a hardcore fan, it’s the closest you might get to the real thing!