Archive for July, 2013
The reviews for Let It Be are in, and though the press found the all of the performers talented, they couldn’t have been more nonplussed, most deeming the show merely a concert by a talented cover band. All brought up how similar in content it was to 2010’s Rain (whose rights’ holders think it’s so similar as to warrant a 50/50 split of revenue) and 1977’s Beatlemainia, which ran for two years. But whether they thought it was a concert or a revival with a different name, they all saw baby boomers and young people alike smiling, dancing and having a great time. If you’re uninterested in Beatles nostalgia and don’t deem this a real Broadway production, go see another show, but if you’re looking to relive your childhood or enjoy to a bunch of songs you know and love, performed well…Let It Be may be just the show for you.
NEW YORK TIMES
“Yes, another Beatles tribute is on Broadway. Wasn’t it just yesterday that Rain opened at the Neil Simon? Pretty much. It was 2010, and Charles Isherwood, reviewing it for The Times, called it “enhanced karaoke.” In long-ago 1977, Beatlemania — “not the Beatles, but an incredible simulation” — opened at the Winter Garden and ran for two years. In his review for The Times, John Rockwell decreed it “an unobjectionable diversion.” Gentle mods and rockers of a certain age, I saw them both. I cringed at the 1977 show. (I mean, all four of the real guys were still alive and in their 30s.) I let myself get carried away at the second. And I can happily report that Let It Be is by far the best of the bunch. The word “celebration” in the subtitle is well chosen, and the performers are outstanding, as nostalgia substitutes and as musicians in their own right. ‘This is not really a Broadway show, is it?…It’s a concert.'”
“Even fake Beatles can bring back good memories of the real thing, when they’re truly talented…If you can check your nostalgia at the door, the tribute show Let It Be that opened Wednesday night on Broadway at the St. James Theatre stands on its own as a lively, multimedia concert and a rocking good time…There’s no question who these enthusiastic musicians are portraying. In fact, it’s a little creepy for those who were around during the originals to see the two deceased Beatles accurately reincarnated. Visually invoking Lennon, Reuven Gershon performs with appropriate cool, while John Brosnan is nicely intense as lead guitarist George Harrison. Enacting still-living Beatles, James Fox incorporates eye-rolling, winking mannerisms and soaring vocals reminiscent of the young McCartney, while drummer Luke Roberts has a head-bopping good time as Ringo Starr. Those four musicians performed in an energetic preview that often had the crowd up on its feet, clapping and singing along…The production is visually appealing, with an array of colorful, sometimes trippy graphics and the grainy news clips or photos projected above, behind and sometimes all around the band.”
“Another year, another Beatles tribute show on Broadway. Less than two years after the Fab Four were last resurrected in Rain, the similarly conceived and executed Let It Be has arrived to satisfy the nostalgic demands of aging baby boomers. Indeed, this show is so closely patterned after Rain that its creators have initiated a lawsuit arguing copyright infringement. But whatever legal complications ensue, there’s no doubt that the experience is virtually the same…It’s essentially a concert by an excellent cover band, featuring elaborate visual trappings. Your enjoyment of the experience will depend both on your affection for the music and willingness to suspend disbelief. If you squint, the four bewigged figures onstage are an approximate visual representation of John, Paul, George and Ringo. And their delivery of the classic material — most of which, ironically, the Beatles never actually performed live — is certainly accomplished enough to be enjoyable. Audiences may well wonder whether the experience is worth paying up to $135 for tickets (more for premium seats), especially when a real live Beatle, Paul McCartney, has been touring this summer. But then again, there’s no underestimating the ageless appeal of this legendary band.”
AM NEW YORK
“Let It Be is the latest in the never-ending parade of cheap, cheesy Beatles tribute concerts on Broadway that has previously included such titles as Beatlemania in the late 1970s and Rain just three seasons ago. They all represent slight variations on the same formula, in which a handful of competent singer-musicians, while not technically playing the Fab Four as characters, stand in and dress up like them and earnestly pay homage to their vocal and musical abilities and accents. In addition to trippy computer graphics, video clips show fans going wild at the original concerts. In contrast, the performers of Let It Be actively need to encourage their dazed audience to clap along or stand up to get their juices flowing. Seeing as those attending Let It Be probably already appreciate all the best-known Beatles songs, they are likely to have a somewhat pleasant experience despite the generally unexciting and derivative nature of the enterprise. In just a few months, a lot of very exciting things will be happening on Broadway. Let It Be is just an unambitious, summertime space filler. Just let it be. Soon enough it’ll go away — and another Beatles tribute show is sure to come along eventually.”
“Watching the new Beatles homage Let It Be (* * ½ out of four), certain audience members are bound to feel a sense of déjà vu — not for the Fab Four themselves, but for the last Broadway salute to them. Creators of Rain, in fact, filed suit against producers of Let It Be in June, contending that the latter show borrows many elements from the former one…Yet while the shows are strikingly similar in tone and structure…there’s a certain irony in claiming creative ownership of a purely re-creative act. Let It Be, which premiered in London last year, aspires to be nothing more than a nostalgia trip, and as such it’s about as engaging as you could expect…The between-song patter can seem as contrived as their accents, and there are patronizing appeals to older audience members — as when Lennon asks if they remember “when CDs were black” and had two sides, holding up an old LP with reverent affection. Luckily, Let It Be‘s company, which includes supporting musicians, is competent enough as singers and instrumentalists to make the numbers compelling…But more driving, muscular favorites, from Ticket to Ride to Come Together, were executed with enough panache to make you appreciate their magic, even without fully recapturing it. Which pretty much sums up both the appeal and the limitations of Let It Be — and other shows like it.”
There are a number of fantastic new musicals opening around the world that we can only hope soon make their way to the Great White Way. None of these shows have officially announced Broadway runs…yet, but boy are folks buzzing about them!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (West End)
A Sam Mendes production starring Douglas Hodge (La Cage Aux Folles, Cyrano) with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (Hairspray, Smash), with a book by David Greig (The Bacchae, Tintin In Tibet).
Disney’s The Jungle Book (Chicago)
Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphasis) has re-imagined the animated film and original book by Kipling, with new songs by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, arrangements by Doug Peck and choreography by Christopher Gattelli (Newsies, Godspell, South Pacific).
King Kong (Australia)
The most exciting element of this production is the giant puppet that plays King Kong – the largest ever created for the stage! Directed by Daniel Kramer with a book and lyrics by Craig Lucas (Marry Me A Little, The Light in the Piazza) and music/arrangements by Marius de Vries (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet), with additional contributions by Stephen Pavlovic from Modular People.
Secondhand Lions (Seattle)
A new musical based on the movie of the same name, directed by Scott Schwartz (Jane Eyre), with a book by Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Curtains) and a score by songwriters Michael Weiner and Alan Zachary (First Date).
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Los Angeles)
Inspired by the album from Grammy-winning band The Flaming Lips, this Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar) directed production features glowing LED costumes, projections and a 14-foot robot puppet.
There are tons of new Broadway and Off-Broadway cast albums out and/or available for pre-order and we wanted to help round them up for you so you can keep building your ultimate musical theatre collection. Click on the cast album cover to view/purchase it:
Which do you have? Which do you love? Which are you most likely to have on repeat for the next couple months/years?