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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Let It Be
Prince Of Wales Theatre  2012 - 2013; Savoy Theatre 2013 - 2014; Garrick Theatre 2014; Garrick summer 2015

It's difficult to review a show like this. A lot of people are going to enjoy it. But they will be selling themselves short, because they deserve better. 

I've written before that I do not disdain the once-a-year big-night-out theatregoer. That's a legitimate audience that merits being treated with respect – more respect than an evening of anonymous performers doing uninspired cover versions of Beatles songs while looking no more like them than you or I would in the right wigs and moustaches and sounding no more like them than, well, a Beatles tribute band. 

Let It Be has no pretence to a plot. It is a string of Beatles songs performed on a stage, roughly in chronological order. (They omit the Hamburg-Cavern days and begin in 1963 with She Loves You, ending two hours later with Hey Jude.) 

The Fab Four are played by some selection out of a pool of eleven – I saw Reuven Gershon (John), Emanuele Angeletti (Paul), Stephen Hill (George) and Gordon Elsmore (Ringo), but you may well have an entirely different lineup. 

At no time could you mistake the sound for the originals – Gershon as John comes closest, with a lot of help from the sound engineer, on A Day In The Life. And visually, the moptop wigs are wrong, the moustached Ringo looks more like George than the George does, and the longhaired John's wig is so dreadful he looks like Tiny Tim. Oh, and the Paul I saw is right-handed. 

The programme asserts 'All music in the production is played and sung live by the company', but unless they have a symphony orchestra, string quartet and brass band hidden backstage, there are backing tracks to most of the George Martin-produced songs. 

The onstage performers are accompanied and sometimes upstaged by multi-screen projections that range from black-and-white CCTV shots of what we can see live and in colour right in front of us, through time-establishing newsreels (screaming fans, Vietnam protests), to imaginative visualisations of some songs. The last group are most successful, particularly an Eleanor Rigby montage obviously inspired by the Yellow Submarine sequence but inventive and evocative in its own right. 

On the plus side, there is the greatest pop/rock songbook of the past fifty years, and if you're going to have a jukebox musical you can't do much better than that. 

On the other hand, if you click on the Amazon button below, you can buy the complete Beatles catalogue on CDs for less than a pair of tickets to Let It Be.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Let It Be - Prince of Wales Theatre 2012    

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