When Brian Epstein first saw The Beatles playing at the Cavern Club in 1961 he wasn’t overly impressed. The four members were dressed in black leather jeans and leather jackets and looked completely out of control.
“I was actually quite put off by the Beatles. They wore black leather jackets, smoked as they played and generally acted unprofessional on stage,” said Epstein. “But they gave a captivating performance and had an amazing ability to connect with the audience – especially the girls.”
So begins “In My Life,” the smash hit, musical biography of the Beatles told through the eyes of Epstein and featuring the live music of accomplished Beatles tribute, Abbey Road. Sets such as the Cavern Club are established by images projected on a large screen behind the musicians and actors. The show has been touring for five years with a critic for the Orange County Register at one point declaring, “If you see one tribute show, see this one –smart and loads of fun.” The show is widely considered by industry insiders to be the most unique Beatles show in decades.
The task of trying to write a script telling the history of the Beatles from their point of view – a glimpse inside the world of the Fab Four – was a difficult undertaking. Producers Tom Maher and Andy Nagle spent six months reading everything they could find that was written about the Beatles, but there is so much discrepancy about what actually happened behind the scenes.
“When we found the same account of facts told by several different people, we placed weight on those story lines,” said trial-lawyer-turned-music-producer Nagle. “One of the problems was that even the Beatles themselves changed their stories over time.”
More than just a Beatles tribute concert, “In My Life” gives the audience a chance to “be there” at pivotal moments in the extraordinary career of the Beatles – from Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club, to the Ed Sullivan Show, Shea Stadium’s 50,000 + screaming fans and their final live performance on the rooftop of their Apple Corp offices.
“It’s nice to learn some things about the Beatles that people may not have known, but in the end the audience really wants to hear the music,” said Maher. “So the band plays 33 Beatles hits during the show.”
The cast rehearsed Beatles music for six months and then performed Fab Four tribute concerts in clubs and bars for over a year under the name “Abbey Road” before the producers began booking the musical.
“The audience knows every vocal harmony and guitar riff,” said Maher, who was on the management team of hard rock band Guns ‘N Roses and currently manages world class bands such as Motorhead and Anthrax. “There is absolutely no room for error performing Beatles music live.”
The band features Chris Paul Overall (“Paul”), Nathaniel Bott (“John”), Jesse Wilder (“George”) and Axel Clarke (“Ringo”). Brian Epstein is played by Alxander Jon. The production includes multimedia, period costumes and vintage instruments. Cast members in their 20s and early 30s were selected to be age-appropriate for the Beatles.
The Edmonds-Woodway High School string quartet will join the band on stage for five ballads. The producers commonly hire local high school string quartets to augment the production.
You can buy tickets to the June 4 performance online at www.edmondscenterforthearts.org, by phone at 425-275-9595, by email to [email protected] or at the theater box office. The Edmonds Center for the Arts is located at 410 4th Ave. N.