Well, this is a very tough one! I agreed to share my theatre reviews via Here is the City and the first show that I am writing about is not a play, but a musical.
Those who are on my list, come with me to shows and read my reviews know I am not a musical fan. Though I have seen Phantom, Les Mis, Matilda, Sweeney Todd and Mamma Mia this year and was quite positive about them - with Matilda being my top pick for the year - perhaps there is an argument for saying that I do like musicals…
So, onto the show. What first hits you is the realization that this is not a musical in the traditional sense, where a story is interwoven around a series of songs (as with Mamma Mia, where the formula works well), but instead the producers have cut out the superfluous dialogue and distraction of a story and concentrated on a band that looks, acts and sounds like the original fab four.
The experience is a concert, taking the audience through a sample of the Beatles’ extensive back catalogue with some costume changes and set alterations along the way. The band are musicians, playing real instruments and are putting a lot of effort into their performance and they sound close enough to the real thing, although some of the hair pieces did look a bit suspect!
Observing the audience it is obvious that they are having a great time, encouraged on a number of occasions to get up, dance and sing along. I was still unsure until I started singing along to ‘Eleanor Rigby’ – a song that has never been on my ipod but I still, strangely, knew all the words and the tune. The songs are so deeply embedded in the psyche, whether it is the lysergic ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ or the heavier and breath taking ‘While my Guitar Gently Weeps’ to the gentle ‘Blackbird’, that the show will at the very least be a success amongst the tourist crowd.
Still I can’t help but think that something was missing, maybe more could have been done with the set. Large view screens were helpful and some retro adverts during the stage breaks were funny, but coming to a theatre there is an expectation of a story and characters, that left me feeling a little unstated.
If you like the Beatles then it worth a trip but if you are looking for a traditional musical, maybe this is not your bag.