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Previewed 24 September 2011, Opened 10 October 2011, Closed 18 February 2012 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London.
Stage adaptation of Iain Softley's 1994 film Backbeat in London directed for the stage by David Leveaux.
Backbeat, a play with songs, is the story of how The Beatles became The Beatles - when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe embaked on their journey from the famous docks of Liverpool to search for success in the seedy red light district of Hamburg. Featuring the all-time rock'n'roll classics that The Beatles cut their teeth with - Twist and Shout; Rock'n'Roll Music; Bad Boy; Long Tall Sally; Please Mr Postman; and Money (That's What I Want) - live on stage as performed by the 'The Beatles'.
The cast for Backbeat in London features Nick Blood as 'Stuart Sutcliffe', Ruta Gedmintas as 'Astrid Kirchherr', Andrew Knott as 'John Lennon', Daniel Healy as 'Paul McCartney', Will Payne as 'George Harrison' and Oliver Bennett as 'Pete Best'. Adapted for the stage by Iain Softley and Stephen Jeffreys from the 1994 Universal Pictures Film. Directed for the stage by David Leveaux from Iain Softley's production for the Glasgow Citizens Theatre.
"Backbeat, a stage adaptation of the 1994 film about the 'fifth Beatle' Stuart Sutcliffe, is a touching and well-told love story. It also traces the emergence of The Beatles from their quiffed, ragged rock'n'roll beginnings - when they played covers of Johnny B. Goode, Good Golly Miss Molly and Twist And Shout - to something mop-topped, beatnik suited and original. All these numbers and more are played with verve by a talented band of actor-musicians who may not look exactly like their Beatle counterparts but strum and drum well enough to get an audience on its feet, clamouring for more... Unlike so many lazy juke-box musicals riding on little more than nostalgia, David Leveaux's finely performed, slick and stylish proto duction is ready trock, and rolls out with terrific energy." The Mail on Sunday
"Backbeat is probably best described as a play with music. Admittedly, quite a lot of very loud music. One of its problems is a monotonous structure that sees each scene followed by a song... Against all odds, though, David Leveaux's radical production creates a creative whirlpool in which the music, Sutcliffe's paintings and Astrid's photography all play their part... It would be hard to overestimate the production team's contribution to creating the grimy but seductive atmosphere in which the play takes place: Christopher Oram and Andrew D Edwards's great metallic design; the projections that include Sutcliffe's paintings (a rare injection of colour); the sensational lighting of Howard Harrison and David Holmes; and the authentic rawness of the sound by Ed Clarke and Paul Groothuis. While this may not be for those who feel nostalgic about the lovable mopheads the Beatles would become, it is for those who miss the grit of 1960s rock'n'roll." The Sunday Times
The director of this stage version of Backbeat, David Leveaux, said: "In the theatre, the story of fame is actually not that interesting. It has a limited cachet, a certain energy, but in essence you need to be asking, what if we can just tell the story of a band where, in the last 15 seconds, you'll sit back and go, 'Oh my God, they became the Beatles?' In no way can this thing sit back on a kind of perceived fame and celebrity that the band achieved. Because then you're in tribute territory... We tried to find the one word that would sum up the production that would guide us and take it away from being a biopic. And the one word that kept coming up was courage. Because that's sort of it, in terms of these people pushing against the barriers around the lives they're in - and being thoroughly challenged in the process. You know: 'You think you can just turn up in Hamburg and play some rock'n'roll? You can't even begin to until you've been through and survived this experience.' And to stand up at the end of all that and play Twist and Shout is a vast achievement."
Backbeat in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 24 September 2011, opened on 10 October 2011 and closed on 18 February 2012.