Chad Reviews "Let It Be"
For most of my life, I feel like I got a bit cheated as far as popular music goes. Several online lists and polls in addition to numerous music publications have named 1969 (the year I was born) as one of THE banner years in popular music, with the advent of both Woodstock and the Isle of Wight music festivals as well as the debuts of acts like Elton John and Led Zeppelin. Granted, I’ve had the opportunity to witness some incredible performances from the music icons of my generation while growing up in the Reagan Era like Michael Jackson and, my all-time favorite musician, Prince. Ironically though, both of them share several common threads. Other than passing away WAY too soon, Jackson’s songwriting has often been compared to that of Lennon/McCartney as well as singing a few duets with McCartney himself, and Prince’s album “Around the World in a Day” drew countless associations with the “Sgt. Pepper”/”Magical Mystery Tour” era, with many critics and fans calling it “Beatlesque”. 1969 also marked the final live performance of The Beatles on the roof of the Apple Offices in London, marking the end of a truly remarkable era in music, and depriving future generations from experiencing the legendary act in person. Fortunately for us however, that’s where “Let It Be” comes in.
“Let It Be” gives us the opportunity to not only relive the highlights of the quartet’s remarkable live performances, but gives us a fascinating what-if scenario of a possible reunion on Lennon’s 40th birthday, October 9th, 1980. Act I follows Paul (Neil Candelora), John (Michael Gagliano), George (JT Curtis), and Ringo (Chris McBurney) from their breakthrough performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” to their famous concert at Shea Stadium, then leaping off the covers of Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road, and culminating with their 1969 rooftop curtain call. Act II finds us attending the 1980 show that never was, regaling the crowd with more of the band’s classics, as well as memorable hits like Paul’s “Band on the Run”, John’s “Imagine”, George’s “My Sweet Lord” and Ringo’s “It Don’t Come Easy” offering fans of not just the band’s numbers, but their individual efforts as well.
There is SO much to love about this production. Being a lifelong music fanatic, and having a wife born and raised in England that is a self-proclaimed Beatlemaniac that attended the performance with me, we became completely immersed in the “Let It Be” experience. This is a “Jukebox Musical” in every sense of the word, even going so far as to have oversized retro radios and television sets flanking the stage, playing period music and painfully funny vintage commercials during set changes. The stage sets are relatively simplistic, yet effective for the era they were portraying, relying heavily on projection screens and the startlingly accurate costume design providing the majority of the visual punch. Although there was a noticeable distracting delay in the video feed and a slight drop in energy from the audience at the start of the second act, this production had me welling up several times, and my wife singing and dancing like a schoolgirl. It’s a delightful production that absolutely should not be missed.