Sunday, January 22, 2012

Closing!!! 'Backbeat' Musical in London

Backbeat Marquee at the Duke of York's Theatre.
(image:British Beatles Fan Club)
Another musical adapted from a feature film fails. 'Backbeat' was an unusual choice. It may have had the Beatles as a subject matter but unfortunately the story takes place before they were famous and is actually about the bass guitarist who was not part of what were to become the fab four. Also the 1994 movie "Backbeat" is not a well known title compared to other recent film to stage adaptations. (It's U.S. box office gross was $2.4 million.)

"Backbeat" the film is a dramatization of the Hamburg, Germany phase of the Beatles in the search of luck while playing the seedy clubs of the city. The band at the time was made of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Pete Best, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe falls in love with a German girl and he has to make a choice between a new life in Germany and rock and roll. The film spawned a Soundtrack CD and is available on DVD. (Sutcliffe died in April 1962 of a brain hemorrhage just before the Beatles made their first recordings that would launch their fame.)

The musical 'Backbeat' opened at the Duke of York's Theatre in London's West End on October 10, 2011 (previews from September 24) and will close on February 18, 2012. The production directed by David Leveaux starred Nick Blood as Sutcliffe, Andrew Knott as Lennon, Daniel Healy as McCartney, William Payne as Harrison and Oliver Bennett as Best. Ruta Gedmintas plays Astrid Kircherr, the name of the girl that Sutcliffe falls for. The musical had its world premiere in 2010 at Glasgow's Citizens Theatre. Producers hope to transfer the show to Canada in summer 2012.

From Sam Marlowe's Time Out review: "This is no tacky jukebox musical. Instead, it's a striking absorbing play with music, written by Ian Softley and Stephen Jeffreys and based on Softley's 1994 film of the same name. It does, of course, exploit the mythology of the Beatlres; but it does so imaginatively, with neither wide-eyed adulation nor slavish adherence to historical fact. The results are dark, thrilling and startlingly moving."

Nick Blood as Stuart Sutcliffe
Oliver Bennett as Pete Best
Daniel Healy as Paul McCartney
Andrew Knott as John Lennon
Will Payne as George Harrison
(all production photos: Nobby Clark)

Ruta Gedmintas and Nick Blood
Andrew Knott and Daniel Healy
Ruta Gedmintas and Nick Blood

Nick Blood and Ruta Gedmintas
Nick Blood and Ruta Gedmintas
Nick Blood
Oliver Bennett
Nick Blood


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