24-29 March 2014
Reviewed by Rhys Black
Last night the Sunderland Empire has taken us on a trip down memory lane with “Let It Be” – the theatrical interpretation of The Beatles career in music. The show starts at the beginning of the “Fab Four’s” journey at the Cavern, to their explosion in popularity all around the world with their largest gig at the Shea Stadium.
The music throughout this show, as you can imagine, is fantastic. We were privileged to hear a medley of 40 classic tunes, all sung brilliantly by the cast including Elenor Rigby, Twist and Shout, Cant Buy Me Love, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and of course, Let it Be. The theatrical fusion was brought to life by a cast of 5; James Fox, Michale Gagliano, Ben Cullingworth, Paul Mannion, and Michael Bramwell. The 5 gelled well on stage and definitely appeared to be enjoying performing to the packed theatre.
There was an ever changing use of the stage and its sets, depending on the location and stage of their carer. By far I felt that the best set was that from the St Peppers album. The Fab Four were kitted out in the outfits from the album and burst into the title song of the album. It then progressed onto ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ with an ingenious use of computerised 3D staging that really made you feel like you were part of the production. The use of colours and abstract shapes completely reflected the song and that album.
Instead of trying to tell a story about the personal story of each member, they really just let the (incredible) music do the talking for them! To compliment this they also played between “sets” compilations of famous events, TV advertisements, and other references from the 1960’s, such as Vietnam, England’s World Cup triumph, and a TV advertisement that gave you the impression that you should be able to smoke anywhere you want! This really gave you a feel of what life was like at the time, and just how much the Beatles helped shape this mood.
The cast’s interaction with the audience was also brilliant! They were constantly trying to involve the audience between songs, and encouraging people to join in with them – by the end of the show I couldn’t see anyone in the audience who wasn’t up clapping and singing along!
I would definitely recommend this show to anyone for a really enjoyable night out – whether it’s for nostalgia to remember just how good they were, or if it’s to discover why they are considered one of the most influential musical groups in history. A 5/5 star is definitely worthy for this show!
Tickets cost from £11.90 to £42.40 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
For more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/sunderland.
Sunderland Empire, High Street West, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, SR1 3EX
Box Office 0844 871 3022