On Broadway: Let It Be

Let It Be

Let It Be

In Lady Gaga’s new single, “Applause,” she claims that she’s overheard a theory that “nostalgia’s for geeks.”

Well if that’s true, Broadway is full of these aforementioned geeks. Whether it’s a revival of a show that hasn’t seen the lights of the Great White Way for years or a jukebox musical that pays homage to the works of legends like Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons (Jersey Boys), ABBA (Mamma Mia), Elvis Presley (All Shook Up), or Carole King (the upcoming Beautiful) Broadway has been whetting theatergoers’ nostalgic appetites for years.

Last month, Broadway added another trip down memory lane to its roster of shows. Playing at the St. James Theatre through December, Let It Be: A Celebration of the Music of the Beatles chronicles the artistic evolution and soaring popularity of the Fab Four through live performances of over forty songs in the band’s prolific repertoire – including “Hey Jude,” “Revolution,” “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “All You Need Is Love,” “Yesterday,” and the standout “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Using 3D sound and projection screens, Let It Be transports audience members to The Beatles’ earliest days in Liverpool’s Cavern Club to their superstar-making appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show to their performances in support of their final album, Abbey Road. Throughout this journey, the audience becomes immersed in the historic Beatles-mania at Shea Stadium, enters a colorful and psychedelic dreamland during the Sgt. Pepper era, and even gets a taste of broader 1960s pop culture with the intersplicing of various television commercials from the time.

“I can happily report that Let It Be is by far the best of the bunch,” wrote The New York Times when comparing the show to previous Beatles tributes, 2010’s Rain and 1977’s Beatlemania. “The word ‘celebration’ in the subtitle is well chosen, and the performers are outstanding, as nostalgia substitutes and as musicians in their own right.”

Where Julie Taymor’s 2007 film Across The Universe used the music of The Beatles to construct a narrative about the sociopolitical conflicts of the 1960s, Let It Be takes a far simpler approach. The story it tells is simply one about how four extraordinarily talented British musicians changed the face of pop forever.

By formatting the show as a straightforward rock concert, Let It Be relies solely on its music to deliver its message – and thus places an important emphasis on the evolving and diverse themes found in The Beatles’ lyrics and songwriting. It doesn’t litter their legacy with anecdotes about their notorious inner tensions, nor does it take any liberties in fictionalizing characterizations of the band’s members. Instead, the songs alone paint a picture of who these men were, what they cared about, what made them so popular, and the grand scale of their impact on pop culture.

For any Beatles fan, Let It Be is not to be missed. It’s easily the closest thing to seeing the Fab Four live, and will have you feeling like you stepped out of a time machine into the bright and dazzling world of the 1960s.

For more info and tickets please visit LetItBeBroadway.com.

Alex has been writing for PopBytes since 2011. As the Theater Editor, he focuses on all aspects of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional Theater, and beyond. Alex lives in Western Massachusetts and can be found on Twitter at @AlexKNagorski.