★★★ Let It Be | Beatlemania returns to the stage with a show celebrating the music, fashions, phases and classic performances of arguably the most influential pop group in history.
CREDIT: David Munn
With a set list of 40 songs spanning the career of the group, the show is crammed full of classic hits and showcases the songs which were the soundtrack to a generation.
Breaking the show as a whole into four sections, Let It Be broadly follows the trajectory of the bands back catalogue, starting at the Cavern Club with Twist and Shout, I Want to Hold Your Hand and Can’t Buy Me Love. The second section saw the stage explode into the colourful, surreal and psychedelic world of the Sargent Pepper era, with performances of A Day in the Life, Strawberry Fields, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Act two opened with an acoustic set, seeing a welcome change in pace, featuring Blackbird, Here Comes the Sun and a superb guitar solo during Whilst My Guitar Gently Weeps before finally moving to Abbey Road, as the show closes with the audience on their feet for a number of singalong classics, including Let It Be, Come Together and a rousing rendition of Hey Jude
There is an absolute visual treat courtesy of Humphrey McDermott’s dazzling lighting design, which was immensely impressive, bringing to life the stage and reaching out into the auditorium to encompass and embrace the audience. The sound was crisp, clear and balanced with the music, vocals and sound effects all perfectly layered on top of each other. The costumes accurately recreated the famous looks of the band, from the waistcoats and white shirts of the Cavern Club to the colourful quasi-military style Sergeant Pepper era and the march of both time and the bands development were well represented, evoking a real spirit of the time.
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What you effectively have here is not a musical in the traditional sense, but more a highly polished, well presented and high end budget tribute act, comprising of a company of very talented musicians delivering a slick concert. By actively encouraging the audience to engage with the performance, frequently being invited to sing along, clap, dance and cheer, the show created a real party atmosphere which it sustained throughout its 2 hour 20 minute running time.
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Aside from the quaint 50’s adverts, some news reels and some footage of screaming girls, there is little to hint at the changing political backdrop of the time, nor is there any backstory with reference to the internal conflict of the band. But Let It Be is billed as “a celebration of the music of the Beatles” and with all the classic hits you would expect being present and correct, it successfully achieves just that.
Let It Be is playing at Sheffield Theatres until Saturday 27th February 2016 before continuing on its extensive national tour until 30th July 2016.
Visit the show’s official website at www.letitbelive.com for details.
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.