LET IT BE(National Tour)
A CELEBRATION of the MUSIC of THE BEATLES
Dallas Summer Musicals
Neil Candelora (Paul McCartney)
JT Curtis (George Harrison)
Michael Gagliano (John Lennon)
Chris McBurney (Ringo Starr)
Daniel A. Weiss (The Fifth Beatle)
Allan Slutsky (Musical Director)
Darren McCaulley (Original Video Designer)
Sooner Routher (Lighting Designer)
Reviewed Performance: 3/8/2017
Reviewed by LK Fletcher, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
"LET IT BE" Opened at Winter Park to an enthusiastic house eager to hear the Fab Four. Unfortunately, LET IT BE is not the FAB FOUR but a staged multi-media concert of Beatles music by a competent cover band. LET IT BE is the third major production of about The Beatles. "Beatlemania" was followed in 2010 by “Rain” which is yet another sound-alike imitation of the iconic band. The producers of the multimedia "Rain" filed a suit against the "Let It Be" producers for copyright infringement.
Touted as a non-stop music tribute the evening is all that- and not much else. The high energy show charges chronologically through dozens of Beatles hits. The audience is routinely instructed to stand or yell or wave their hands. In addition, we get the opportunity to view 1960s television commercials or photo documentaries during the costume changes. The Carnation Instant Breakfast ad was a big win. There are very few other elements that are musical in nature. John, George, Paul and Ringo are nameless- their names are never spoken. There is no dialogue between characters other than verbal encouragement to the audience. There is a voice-over narrating historical events in the life of the unnamed band and the drum logo says, “Let It Be”.
The show opened last fall in London as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first record, telling the story of the most influential band of the 1960s. Act I begins with scenes at the Cavern Club, the murky Liverpool lounge where the group played early concerts; “The Ed Sullivan Show,” with a pedantic cycle of the same 8-9 requisite film clips of ecstatic teenage girls nearly going into convulsions over and over and over; and the 1965 Shea Stadium concert. Act I ends with a “Sgt. Pepper” (1967) set, including a colorful, graphic infused psychedelic rendition of “A Day in the Life.”
The second half imagines a world in which the Beatles re-united. You enter a time capsule and turn back in time to what would have been John Lennon’s 40th Birthday and the Fab Four come together to perform hits like “Back In The USSR”, “Live and Let Die”, “Got To Get You Into My Life” and “My Sweet Love” and “Hey Jude”.
LET IT BE does have some fun with the style progression of the Beatles: After the stark utility of Liverpool, and the black-and- white Ed Sullivan, we cruise through A Hard Day’s Night and Shea Stadium, we land on the more whimsical shores of Sgt. Pepper, with the pastel satin mariachi outfits (with a reference to Hamilton) and plenty of psychedelic lightning and projections. Here the multimedia elements become a visual feast.
You do get around 40 classic hits performed live in LET IT BE. The majority of the tempos are much faster than the original and most of the songs are abridged. This was distracting for Beatles fans and musicians who appreciate the subtleties The Beatles demonstrates in their performances. The LET IT BE musicians are talented and competent musicians it is just a bit of a re-mix at times. They are technically adept and cohesive as an ensemble. The audio balance was not great- the synth dominated most of the arrangements.
Michael Gagliano as Lennon offered an excellent physicality while JT Curtis as George Harrison offered some of the most musical and virtuosic elements. Chris McBurney was solid on the set as the flamboyant Ringo Starr. Front man Neil Candelora brought a boyish hyper-enthusiasm to his portrayal of Paul McCartney. My British companion wasn’t convinced by the Liverpool accents but enjoyed the program. The 5th Beatle Daniel A Weiss did stellar work at the keyboard. Mr. Weiss is both competent and creative in his ability to orchestrate and enhance the arrangements and create a studio multi track sound at the keyboard.
LET IT BE is a fun family evening for Beatles fans. It moves quickly and there is lots of opportunity to move around, to sing and to celebrate the creative and iconic music of The Beatles that shaped rock and roll.