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A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!



Jamie Hendry Productions, Annerin Productions, BB Promotion, Rubin Fogel & Julian Stoneman Associates present


Let It Be


One Year Anniversary Performance


(l-r) Ian B. Garcia, John Brosnan, Phil Martin (drums), Michael Gagliano in LET IT BE


Music by The Beatles

Musical Supervisor and UK Director – John Maher

Company: Emanuele Angeletti, Michael Bramwell, John Brosnan, Ryan Alex Farmery, James Fox, Michael Gagliano, Reuven Gershon, Stephen Hill, Phil Martin, Luke Roberts

Understudies: Ryan Coath, Ben Cullingworth, Iain Hornal, Paul Mannion

Scenic Designer – Tim Mc Quillen-Wright

Stephan Gotschel – Global Lighting Designer

UK Lighting Designer – Humphrey McDermott

Sound Designer – Gareth Owen

Video Designer – Duncan McLean

Original Video Designers – Darren McCaulley and Mathieu St-Arnaud

Pippa Ailion CDG – Casting Director

Jack Galloway – Costume Supervisor

Patrick Molony – Production Manager


Savoy Theatre

Now booking to 18 Jan 2014


Beatlemania is not only enjoyable, but also, thankfully, incurable. I say thankfully, because anything that spreads as much happiness around the world as Beatles’ music does will hopefully carry on winging its’ way as far and wide as John Lennon’s mystical, space launched song, Across the Universe.

Settling into a seat at the Savoy for my third go round with this ‘juke box’ musical, I’m reminded once again of how much more than that this music filled show is. It hits a higher note than most throw-back shows tend to, not just because of the number of hit songs it contains, a still artful forty, by a group who collectively produced them in a mere eight year span, but because of the level of enthusiasm it consistently generates in its diverse audiences. You don’t have to be ten, twenty, thirty or even, sixty-four to appreciate The Beatles music, and that, and stunning live recreations of seminal songs ranging from still stirring ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ on through to Lennon’s sans Beatles anthem, ‘Give Peace a Chance,’ not only activate memories, but also, a vivid sense of the times they’ve come to represent.

Even before curtain up, stage settings offer something of a show in themselves via ‘60’s adverts, one featuring Warren Mitchell aka Alf Garnet, naying then yaying fish fingers, others, clips of mini-skirted, Swinging London on large, retro telly screens at various levels, all happily in clear sight from the Dress Circle. A Beatles quiz loops on one screen as theatre-goers take their seats. There’s a definite buzz in the house, not just because it’s the one year anniversary of Let It Be, but because we’re about to hear Beatles music, performed live, by musicians as enamoured of the songs they’ll be playing as their listeners, and as such, delivered as passionately and true to their original performers as is humanly possible. In short, this is as close as you’re ever likely to get to seeing The Beatles perform live. It’s an exhilarating ride for fans, albeit one at times, tinged with longing for what might have been. Still, where else would you see, but more importantly, hear, ‘George’ jam with ‘Paul’ and ‘John’ while ‘Ringo’ drums along? This show is a respectful, loving tribute to The Beatles rather than a tribute band.

The illusion of being there, among the stars whose music this show’s top flight players so effectively re-enact is definitely helped by being at a distance from the stage in, say, the Dress Circle, as opposed to in the stalls below, though Michael Gagliano’s John Lennon is so pitch perfect in relation to his character’s distinctive singing and mannerisms, particularly when he dons the trademark round spectacles, that it’s easy to overlook his wavering Liverpudlian accent, which Lennon himself tended to exaggerate for effect. It’s fun and also, moving to see when memories kick in, based on immediate reactions. A Spanish woman sitting nearby fairly swooned at James Fox’s rendering of ‘Yesterday’ in the guise of Paul McCartney, and we all marvelled and laughed together at clips of the OTT reactions of female fans to their heroes in Shea Stadium, as overweight cops sought in vein to curb their enthusiasm, one frustratedly mopping his brow. Sing a long favourites included Phil Martin’s Ringo’s classic rendering of ‘With a Little Help from My Friends,’ and John Brosnan’s George Harrison singing ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ both of which seem to be on nearly everyone’s list of favourite Beatles songs.


Phil Martin in the West End production of LET IT BE


Personal favourite ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ nearly took my breath away, as it had on both occasions I’d heard it performed before, and the psychedelic projections for that, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,’ ‘A Day in the Life,’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band’ and other songs of that era added considerable excitement. Though, most songs offers their own mood enhancing projected accompaniments, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ among them. Just as The Beatles would have been nowhere without the imaginative expertise of George Martin, so the cast of Let It Be would have been adrift without musician/effect maker extraordinaire, Michael Bramwell, who tweaked and tickled, magically filling in any and all gaps to enable listeners appreciation of songs in accordance with their original recordings.

Clothing and surroundings, much of it iconic, change with The Beatles times, moving seamlessly from the Cavern Club through Magical Mystery Tour and beyond, into a rousing, words on screen encore. Once legendary performances have been evocatively staged, the touted theatrical fourth wall is intentionally and effectively broken by our Beatle like players who further honour through imitation.

If you and your crew are tired of the same old same old at half term, Christmas and what have you, this year celebrate life with a song and head to beautiful, acoustically fine Savoy Theatre for Let It Be. Once you’ve joined the happy throng singing and dancing along there, you’ll be very glad you did.

Michael Gagliano in the West End production of LET IT BE
Savoy Theatre
7:30 PM Mon – Sat. (no Tues. shows)
Matinees Sat. and Sun. – 3 PM
Sunday evenings – 7 PM
2 hours and 20 min. including 20 min. interval

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