Review: ‘Let It Be’ at the Deutsches Theater

By Jonathan Spira on 1 November 2018
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As the lights dimmed in the recently renovated Deutsches Theater and the four principal actors in the West End musical “Let It Be” took their places, one thought crossed my mind: Why do they all look like Paul?

Indeed, for most of the first half of the Beatles tribute, three of the actors looked like they were all trying out for the role of Mr. McCartney.  Perhaps it was the instrument, but there was no doubt that that was Ringo Starr behind the drum set.

The early days of the Fab Four are well covered here.  The first portion of the show takes us from the Beatles’ 1962 appearance at the Cavern Club, to their 1963 Royal Variety Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre, in the presence of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Continuing to their 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, where the Fab Four began the British Invasion, and on to the storied concert at Shea Stadium (with full projected backdrop) for one of the most storied concerts of all time.  They play on –  yeah yeah yeah – while four giant 1960s-style TVs around the stage help set the scene in a black-and-white age.

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The band is outfitted for the psychedelic 70s, the Magical Mystery Tour, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band off stage while black-and-white TV commercials play – much to the amusement of older members of the audience.

As the band continues to play, I began to see the four individuals on stage not as actors in a tribute show but as the Beatles themselves.

After the intermission, an imagined reunion concert ten years later on the occasion of John Lennon’s 40th and final birthday is next. Seeing and hearing “Hey Jude,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Got To Get You Into My Life,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” and “Let It Be” performed was a high point of the show. The careers of the individual artists are acknowledged as well with the performance of “My Sweet Lord,” “Imagine,” “Live and Let Die,” and “Band on the Run,” among other hits.

In the land of “Let It Be,” what was missing was also the elephant on the stage, namely the growing divisions between Lennon and McCartney and the fine-tuned tension between individual careers and self-expression that would ultimately conflict with the group’s identity.

Because “Let It Be” was a show, not a concert, theatergoers had to be encouraged to stand and clap their hands – something the Munich audience clearly enjoyed doing – although the majority of the room would have been hard-pressed to name more than one or two Beatles at best.

John Lennon’s song “Imagine” asks the listener to imagine a world at peace with itself. “Let It Be” causes the theatergoer to imagine a world where the Beatles were able to heal their divisions and reunite as one, just as the song suggests.

THE DETAILS

Let It Be
Limited Engagement: October 30-November 4
Deutsches Theater
Schwanthalerstraße 13
80336 München, Deutschland
Runtime: Two hours and 15 minutes
www.deutsches-theater.de

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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