Review: Let It Be (Royal Court, Liverpool)

 

The Beatles musical Let It Be, a joyous celebration of the music that set Liverpool and then the world alight, has taken the West End by storm no less than three times since its premiere there in 2012. It’s also wowed audiences on Broadway and in Japan, Germany and Russia, but now it’s where it belongs: in the city where it all started, for an extended run at the Royal Court.

The show packs in no less than forty songs. And what songs they are: those that weren’t hits are just as familiar as those that were, and given the chance could easily have topped the charts themselves. No wonder that when the Beatles conquered the United States a year or so after they’d triumphed in Britain, the Americans quickly made up for lost time: in April 1964 the top five singles in the Billboard chart were all Beatles records, an achievement that’s never been repeated.

Let It Be takes us on a musical journey, from the early days at the Cavern to the group’s final break-up, via such landmark moments as the Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium, appearances on the Ed Sullivan show in the US and at New York’s Shea Stadium (complete with simulated deafening crowd noise), the psychedelic experiments and the concert on the roof of the Apple building in London. That means classic after classic, from I Saw Her Standing There and Please, Please Me to Get Back and Back In The USSR, by way of Ticket To Ride, Eleanor Rigby, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and many, many more. There are also regular costume changes to match, with the Sergeant Pepper outfits especially vibrant and colourful, and John resplendent in a white suit for the Abbey Road era. A climactic Hey Jude had everyone on their feet, dancing and waving their arms in unison. 

There’s limited dialogue between the songs, but when there is it’s understandably Paul Mannion, a Liverpool actor who’s played George Harrison before, who has the most convincing local accent (he’s also an excellent guitarist). The others –  Luke Roberts (as Ringo, shaking his mop of hair in time to the music just as we all remember), Emanuele Angeletti (Paul McCartney), Paul Canning (John Lennon), – all acquit themselves admirably well, successfully capturing the personalities of their respective characters as well as displaying fine musicianship. There’s entertainingly competitive banter between John and Paul, with John generally making the sharpest jokes.

The trust that runs the Royal Court sees part of its remit as enticing through its doors a wider audience than most other theatres manage to attract. Let It Be gloriously demonstrates what this means in practice: you’d need a heart (and ears) of stone not to love this show.

***** A 5 Star show if ever there was one: fantastic entertainment

Let It Be continues at the Royal Court, Liverpool until Saturday 14 November. For more information, click HERE.